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CDMX, Mexico. – Five artists of Cuban origin have been nominated for the Grammy Award in the 65th edition of these awards. On February 5, Camila Cabello, Arturo Sandoval, Erik Alejandro Rodríguez (Cimanfunk), Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo O’Farrill could take home the award.

CubaNet presents brief profiles to find out who these artists are, their achievements and also their political positions regarding Cuba.

Erik Alejandro Rodriguez (Cimafunk)

Erik Alejandro Iglesias, known by his artistic nickname of Cimafunk, does not like to be asked about politics, repression, or the Cuban dictatorship. Those topics he avoids and instead he prefers to talk about music, race, styles. He is not interested in being an opinion leader who punishes the Cuban regime with his voice. On the contrary, he flees from this type of controversy. In the interviews he focuses on his songs as vehicles towards “la gozadera” or even sex.

The 32-year-old was born in Pinar del Río and studied three Medicine courses to please his family. But that was not the life he wanted. Cimafunk dreamed of stages, not medical salons. So one day, without music studies but with talent, he left for Havana to try his luck. There he played with Raúl Paz, Interactivo, The Boys, and it didn’t go badly for him, although he aspired to create his own project.

In 2017 came his first album, Therapywith songs like “Parar el tiempo” and “Leave” it slipped into the first places of preference among the public. This material, along with international tours, put him in the spotlight and, two years later, bill board selected it among the 10 Latino artists to watch in 2019.

In 2021, Cimafunk presented their second album, The foodco-produced with American Jack Splash, known for his work with Tyler the Creator, Ceelo Green and Alicia Keys, among others.

The food was classified among the 50 best albums of the year by the magazine rolling stones. With this phonogram, the Cuban competes for a Grammy in the category of Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album.

To win the Grammy, the man from Pinar del Río must beat Jorge Drexler (ink and time), Mon Laferte (1940 Carmen), Gaby Moreno (Allegory), Fito Paez (the wild years) and Rosalia (motomami).

Cimafunk (Photo: taken from Cimafunk’s Facebook profile)

camila cabello

Camila Caballo, the daughter of a Cuban and a Mexican, was born in Cojímar, a fishing village in Havana, in 1997. From there she retains the first memories of her childhood, associated mainly with the aromas of the food prepared by her grandmother and the cigarettes who smoked At just seven years old, she arrived in the United States with her mother, taking only the clothes she was wearing and a few hundred dollars. There they started from scratch and just over a year later her father was able to join them. As a gift for 15 years, Camilla asked her parents to take her to audition for The X Factor. There she began her path to success and it has been unstoppable.

In 2017, he released the single titled “Havana” from his debut album Camila. This managed to position itself in the first position of the Billboard Hot 100 in United States. The single received gold and platinum certifications in 14 countries. Another of her hits, “Señorita,” became her second single to top the chart. Billboard Hot 100.

Despite her youth, Cabello already has two Latin Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards and one Billboard Music Awards. In October 2021, “Havana” was certified diamond by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association). In addition, in that same year, Cabello made her debut as an actress, playing the main character of the film Cinderella.

The artist not only constantly talks about her Cuban roots and the Latin influences in her music, but she has publicly positioned herself against the island’s regime and has supported the July 11 protesters. In 2021 she used her networks to continuear the acute crisis that his native country was experiencing and the repression of the Government. In addition, he asked his followers to position the SOSCuba label on social networks.

Later, in his appearance on the program “The Street You Grew Up On”, he declared that the Cuban Revolution had been a failure.

“The Revolution began with my grandparents and when my mother’s generation arrived, it began to fall apart. The power was already going out for days, there was a shortage of food, there was rationing. So my mom’s generation was like, ‘Oh, this attempted dream that they sold to my parents’ generation isn’t working,’” she said.

In recent times, Camila has also been an active voice defending women’s bodies from unrealistic, and almost unattainable, standards of beauty. The artist has shown her belly and the cellulite on her legs without retouching, as part of a positive message about the female body.

The Cuban is nominated for a Grammy in the category Best Pop Duo/Group Presentation.

paquito d’rivera

In the Instrumental Composition category, jazz legend Paquito D’Rivera has been nominated this year.

Son of the Cuban saxophonist and conductor Tito D’Rivera, Paquito began studying music at the age of five and at seven he was already called a “child prodigy” because he was capable of performing in public. In 1958, at the age of 10, he filled the National Theater of Havana and at 17 he debuted with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, as a soloist in a concert.

Probably his most remembered period is the one in which he founded Irakere with the great Chucho Valdés, where both fused jazz, rock, traditional Cuban music and classical music.

In May 1980, D’Rivera left the Island, seeking asylum at the United States embassy in Spain. On North American soil, he not only consolidated his career, with the publication of his first two solo albums, but also has been an active voice against the Cuban dictatorship. In fact, the saxophonist has been very critical of artists from his country who are still silent about the repression and hardships on the Island. Has declared openly that he hates complicit silence. The people who are silent are the ones who “piss off” him the most, according to his own words.

After the protests of July 11, 2021, the renowned musician confessed that he saw a “light of hope” in Cuba and was glad that the musicians, especially the black ones, had come forward to ask for change and freedom.

paquito d'rivera
(Photo: taken from the artist’s Facebook profile)

Arthur O’Farrill

For this edition of the awards, not one, but two candidates of Cuban origin appear in the Latin Jazz Album category. The first is Arturo O’Farrill, nominated for the album Fandango At The Wall In New York that he did together with The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and The Congra Patria Son Jarocho Collective.

The musician, born in Mexico, is the son of the renowned arranger and conductor Boy O’Farrill. Arturo is probably the only one on the list of nominees of Cuban origin who openly has a position close to the Havana regime.

O’Farrill has been invited several times to the Island to cultural events such as the Jazz Festival and Cubadisco. In addition, he was at the reopening of the Embassy of USA in Havana, in 2015, like invited. And that’s not all, cubadebate has replicated the messages that the musician has posted against the US embargo.

Arturo O’Farrill has won four Grammy Awards and two Latin Grammy Awards.

Arthur O'Farrill
Arturo O’Farrill (Photo: taken from the artist’s social networks)

Arturo Sandoval

Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is also among the nominees in the Best Latin Jazz Album category for his album Rhythm and Soul. If he wins the award, this would be the eleventh award he would take home.

Born in Artemisa, Sandoval began studying classical trumpet at the age of 12 until, at 17, a friend shared a jazz record with Dizzy Gillespie, who would later become his mentor and friend. Listening to that record changed his paradigms and instilled in him the desire to explore these new rhythms, despite the fact that the Cuban government classified them as imperialist at the time. In Cuba he developed a successful career as part of Irakere, until in the 1980s he escaped from a tour and immigrated to the United States with his family.

From then on, he developed a prolific career that includes 46 of his own albums, 10 Grammy Awards, six Billboard Awards and an Emmy for the music for the film “For Love or Country”, where his life is told.

When asked what is most important to him, Arturo does not hesitate to answer that freedom. “There is nothing more important for a human being than feeling free, and I can say it because I lived under a dictatorial regime and for 33 years I have been enjoying what freedom is, what my country lacks,” said the trumpeter, 72 years old, during a telephone conversation with Clarion.

“A year ago the ‘Patria y Vida’ movement emerged and I felt it as a light at the end of the tunnel. It encouraged me, because really, all these years I was very skeptical about the possibility of a change in Cuba. He thought: I’m going to die without being able to visit my native country Sandoval stated.

Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval (Photo: taken from the artist’s social networks)

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