Photos by: Courtesy of the artist
(Click para version Español) It’s going to be an exciting night in Las Vegas, November 11, for Lucrecia, at the Latin Grammy awards show. Her internationally acclaimed, “Album de Cuba,” has garnered the Cuban-born singer a nomination for the CD (on Warner Music Spain) in the “Best Contemporary Tropical Album” category. She is alongside multiple Grammy winning superstar veterans Juan Luis Guerra and Johnny Ventura. Also nominated in the category, Prince Royce and Tecupae.
Lucrecia, the dazzling recording artist, actress, composer, children’s book author and television personality, has lived in Barcelona, Spain since she left Cuba in the early 1990s. Her roots are in classical music and piano, which she began as a child. Her voice was discovered at a singing competition in Cuba when she was just out of high school — then went on to perform as a singer with “Anacaona,” one of the legendary Cuban female bands of all time.
She became a pop singing star in Spain, yet effortlessly makes a chameleon-like transformation into any one of several musical styles. In the case of “Album de Cuba,” she channels a songstress of the 1930s, backed by a classic big band like you’d find at the Tropicana nightclub. This project is a touching tribute to an era back when classic Cuban hits were performed by artists throughout the world. Lucrecia interprets beloved classics including “Siboney,” “Guantanamera,” “El Manisero,” and many more with a voice that is alternately intensely seductive then playful.
Lucrecia has often been compared to the legendary Celia Cruz because of her powerful voice and compelling stage presence, but Lucre, as she’s known to her close friends, has a musical versatility matched by few performers alive today. Think Ella Fitzgerald meets Donna Summer meets Christina Aguilera meets Sade. I’m not kidding. Just listen. She is equally at ease with the typical Cuban music as she is with pop, dance music, earthy jazz or Brazilian bossa nova, which she has also recorded.
I met this intriguing character in Miami about six years ago and she has become a dear friend. After you get past her dazzling beauty, charm, body of work and mind-boggling talent, you marvel even more that she’s so adorably humble. No diva silliness anywhere. She has elegance, class and is highly educated, enunciating every word as if each were precious. And, oh lordy, the sense of humor.
I reached Lucrecia at her home in Barcelona recently to get her reaction about the nomination. It was sheer, genuine excitement. Despite her many successes and fame — in 15 years she’s recorded 13 albums — Lucrecia is far from jaded.
DAISY: Corazon! Felicidades! A Latin Grammy nomination! Tell me what went through your mind.
LUCRECIA: Imagine! I’m thrilled! I’m overflowing with gratitude and joy. It’s a dream come true that deep in my heart I felt was going to happen, but I didn’t want to focus on it. I found out the day of La Caridad del Cobre (Cuba’s patron saint) which is also my mother’s birthday! It was a marvelous surprise!
DAISY: Tell me how the idea for “Album de Cuba” began.
LUCRECIA: From my urgent need to sing Cuban music, going back to my roots! It was a long road starting with dance and pop music over 10 years ago then television, a children’s record and so on… I found myself saying, “I desperately need to record classic Cuban songs.” We started in September of 2008 while doing pre-production on the children’s record, in December we were on this album and finished up March 2009 with Andy recording the video and two songs.
DAISY: How did you get Andy Garcia to be part of “Album de Cuba”?
LUCRECIA: We originally approached Andy to recite the verses of Jose Marti’s poem, “Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca”. Once he saw the concept he was inspired to work on other songs; he plays bongos and sings in “Guantanamera,” “La Cuba Mia,” and “Siboney.” Knowing the passion he has for our homeland and our music, I was honored to work with him!
DAISY: I adore this music but why is it also so significant for you?
LUCRECIA: It was very personal. My parents raised me in a musical environment and I learned to appreciate this style because they kept it alive daily. It still moves me. On this album, I was also able to incorporate the voice of the late great, the queen, Celia Cruz. She was an international legend who singlehandedly changed the face of women in the world of Latin music and made her mark in history. This album also shows the glamour of my homeland and that nostalgia that always finds its way into my soul and creates vivid pictures of the Cuba I remember. I feel this style of music should be honored and passed down to future generations so they never forget where our families came from and where we called home.
DAISY: Is everyone still comparing you to Celia Cruz?
LUCRECIA: Yes, but I don’t think it’s because of my voice really because it’s just not that similar. But someone said to me that it’s some similar personality traits and that people are just yearning for that joie de vivre that she represented. Of the charm that she carried from Cuba throughout the world. I’m flattered but I don’t think it’s right because each person has their own identity, each one is unique and certainly no one can replace Celia! I have the most profound respect for her. She was a dear friend.
DAISY: What’s next, oh fabulous one?
LUCRECIA: (Laughs) I’ve got a line of children’s clothing coming out inspired by my crazy braids, an album called “La Casita de Lucrecia”. And I’m planning two more albums in the same style as Album de Cuba. I don’t like resting my brain, and I’m so grateful that these amazing opportunities come my way! And for you, I’m sending you besitos de chocolate! (Chocolate kisses)