Tributo a las Divas Cubanas kicks off Harris Center’s Four Slices of Cuba
FOLOSM — Fans of Afro-Cuban-Latin music who love high-energy performances will be treated to the exciting song stylings of Cuban vocalist and former member of Bamboleo, Yordamis Mergret, as she takes audiences on an electrifying musical journey. Mergret pays homage to legendary Cuban Divas Celia Cruz, La Lupe, Celeste Mendoza and Graciela as the first performer in Harris Center for the Arts’ Four Slices of Cuba, a Cuban music festival.
Backed by the West Coast Salsa Orchestra, Mergret will perform songs that have memorialized each diva in her own right and still continue to be steadfast favorites.
Megret was born in the province of Oriente in Cuba where she enchanted all kinds of audiences acting and singing at Teatro Guiñol from the age of 5. In 1995, at 18, she graduated from Havana’s esteemed music academy, Escuela Nacional de Arte and shortly after her graduation Mergret performed at a Contest of Singers in Havana. As a result, this beautiful Cuban talent quickly gained notice and she was provided opportunities to perform internationally.
Mergret was first introduced to international audiences in Mexico and Guatemala. She sang with several bands like PG (El poder de la Generacion), directed by a prestigious musician Jose Luis Cortes (El Tosco), founder and leader of NG La Banda. In 1998 she became part of the well-known Orchestra Bamboleo after a long tour through Mexico with former musicians of Roberto Faz Orchestra.
As one of Bamboleo’s front singers, Megret sang on the latest CD recordings, played in concerts and shared stages with Latin icons such as Gilberto Santa Rosa, DLG, Albita Rodriguez and Charlie Saa, among others.
In 2002, after four years of successful tours and performances with Bamboleo, Mergret launched her solo career, remaining in the United States to work on her new dreams and ambitions. While in Miami, Fla., she shared the stage with former singer of Los Van Van, Israel Kantor and trombone player and director Juan Pablo Torres.
Mergret and friends share artistic and musical diversity; they have created a mix of Afro-Cuban roots with fusion, funk, jazz, rumba and flamenca, among other rhythms. Mergret, now a resident of Miami, Florida currently works as a classical guitar teacher as well as the lead singer for her own orchestra.
The concert is a tribute to these stars of the Cuban firmament:
Celia Cruz is one of the most popular salsa artists of the 20th century, she earned 23 gold albums and was internationally renowned as the Queen of Salsa, La Guarachera de Cuba, as well as The Queen of Latin Music. Leila Cobo of Billboard Magazine once said, “Cruz is indisputably the best known and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music.”
La Lupe was a Cuban singer of several musical genres: boleros, guarachas and Latin Soul in particular. Known for her energetic, sometimes controversial performances, she is considered by many to be one of the leading singers in the salsa music genre. She was the first Latin singer to sell out a concert event at Madison Square Garden.
Celeste Mendoza is best known for her singing of guaguancos, the music of the street rumbas, a form of music previously almost exclusively associated with male singers. Although initially beginning her career as a dancer she made a series of recordings with Bebo Valdez’s orchestra and Ernesto Duarte Brito’s band. She appeared at the Olympia in Paris with the Orquesta Aragón and Los Zafiros as part of the show Gran Music Hall de Cuba and went on to record with Los Papines and Clave Y Guaguanco in later years.
Graciela is often called the The First Lady of Latin Jazz. She was primarily known for her tremendous voice, risque and sassy stage presence and sexy double entendre lyrics. She performed with Mario Bauzá (originator of the genre of Afro-Cuban Jazz) in the world renowned orchestra Machito and the Afro-Cubans. Sharing the stage with Mario and her older adopted brother Frank “Machito” Grillo until their untimely split in 1975, they were, for 32 years, on top of the charts: the orchestra not only to beat, but to emulate.
Tributo a las Divas Cubanas will be presented at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 27. Tickets are $19 to $29 with premium seats available for $39; students with ID pay $12. Purchase tickets online at harriscenter.net or from Harris Center ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.
Other events that are part of the Four Slices of Cuba series include Omar Sosa, Conjunto Chappottín y Sus Estrellas and Piloto Y Klimax.