Women making music is quite normal in Cuba. Havana has 19 all-female salsa orquestas. Anacaona is the oldest of them, founded in 1932 by the sisters Castro. For their band they chose the name of a beautiful Indian queen, who in her time led an uprising against the Spanish.
Anacaona… the everlasting talent and sweetness
From Tropicana Internacional, by Nancy Robinson Calvet, foto by Raul Aroche
The original members of Anacaona have more than enough reasons to be proud on their successors. How lucky are those Castro sisters who, 65 years after being united under the native name of Anacaona, first as a septeto and later on as a jazz band, have heiresses who continue keeping up Cuban music and feminine presence in the worldwide scene!
Anacaona nowadays continues being the feminine orchestra standard of Cuba because, according to Georgia Aguirre, their beautiful and talented director, the demands to appear in this group are quite rigorous:
“The first demand to enter Anacaona is to have talent, although it seems not so modest to say so. Also the women must have finished a musical study and they must have much human sensitivity, which is just as important as the musical aspect. A good image is equally essential in our work. We try to look attractive, to emphasize our being feminine, whereas both physical and spiritual beauty should go together. Nowadays for an artist it is not enough to dominate on the instruments. In addition one must know how to express oneself orally and with gestures, to know languages, to develop in the scene and outside the scene.”
In the year of its 65th anniversary, Anacaona has experienced changes which enlargen their interpretative power and the quality of their sound. “We entered a stage of greater maturity and therefore we needed to feed ourselves with innovating ideas, to add a drumset to the traditional set-up, to incorporate themes of the old repertoire, from the golden time of the 50’s and the 60’s, to the classic ones. We have planned to enrichen our show with various forms: quartet, vocal quintet, to make jazz…”
The last CD of Anacaona carries its title as a premonition. Recorded with Bis Music, “Como un milagro” (“As a miracle”) had the power to open doors for them in several European countries which soon afterwards would appreciate live that the record was only a pale advance payment of what the orchestra really is. Now the spicy girls want to prepare another cd “that will be historical because it will give us the possibility of showing everything that we know and that we can do”. The original Anacaona has enough reasons to feel proud of the fruits rendered by the seed that they made germinate 65 years ago.