Pablo Milanes was born on February 24, 1943 in Bayamo, Cuba, the youngest of five siblings
MADRID, SPAIN: Pablo Milanés, the Latin Grammy-winning songwriter who traveled the world as a cultural ambassador for Fidel Castro’s revolution and co-founded Cuba’s “New Trova” movement, has died in Madrid, Spain, where he had been treated for blood cancer for some years; The singer died at the age of 79.
Manuel Marrero Cruz, the Prime Minister of Cuba, released a statement on Twitter expressing his sadness at the death of the well-known singer-songwriter. Milanes began his career in the 1960s and rose to fame in the Cuban Nueva Trova music scene. He was famous worldwide for his love songs and simple melodies. Due to health reasons, Milanes has had to postpone many concerts lately. His death is a tragedy for Cuban culture and he will be considered one of Cuba’s best-known musicians.
In 1970 he created the archetypal Latin love ballad “Yolanda,” which is still popular everywhere from the tourist cafes of Old Havana to the cantinas of Mexico City. In 2003, Spanish newspaper El Pais Milanes asked how many women he had flirted with, claiming they “inspired” the song. “None,” he said, laughing. “But many have said to me, ‘My child is the product of ‘Yolanda,'” reports the Washington Post.
Milanes supported the Cuban Revolution of 1959 but was persecuted by the authorities during Fidel Castro’s early years in power, when all forms of “alternative” expression were frowned upon. Milanes was allegedly harassed for wearing his hair in an afro and assigned to a work detail because of his interest in foreign music. These experiences didn’t dampen his revolutionary fervour, however, and he began to incorporate politics into his songwriting, collaborating with artists such as Silvio Rodriguez and Noel Nicola.
Milanes received two Latin Grammys in 2006 for his albums AM/PM, Lineas Paralelas (AM/PM, Parallel Lines), a duet with Puerto Rican salsa singer Andy Montanez, and Como un Campo de Maiz (Like a Cornfield) . , which won Best Singer-Songwriter Album.
He has also received several awards from his native Cuba, including the 2007 Haydee Santamaria Medal from the Casa de las Americas for his services to Latin American culture, the 1982 Alejo Carpentier Medal, and the 2005 National Music Award.