Monday, August 08, 2005

RIP Ibrahim Ferrer (1927-2005)

Playlist: RIP Ibrahim Ferrer 1927-2005

The world lost a great Cuban singer over the weekend, as Ibrahim Ferrer died Saturday of multiple organ failure, after returning from his world tour.

Born in San Luis (near the city of Santiago de Cuba,) Ferrer got an early start when his mother died and he was forced to sing on the streets for money at age 12. He was singing in his first group by age 14, and by the 1950s he was fronting Pacho Alonso's Havana-based orchestra, remaining with the group for over two decades (later calling themselves Los Bocucos.) During this time Ferrer also guested with Cuban legends like the Orquesta de Chepin and Beny Moré and primarily performed guarachas and sones.

By the 1980s Ferrer was out of music completely, shining shoes and living on a tiny monthly pension. In 1996 he was lured out of retirement to sing on the Afro-Cuban All Stars' debut Toda Cuba Le Gusta ("Los Sitio' Asere.") This was followed quickly by a memorable appearance on Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club album. A movie documenting the recording followed and became a hit, propelling the artists and Cuban music in general into the limelight.

In 1999, he released his solo debut, Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer, at age 71, for which won a latin Grammy for Best New Artist, turning the category on hit's chronological ear.

In 2000, he lent his vocals on the cartoon hip-hop Gorillaz debut ("Latin Simone [Que Pasa Contigo]") Gorillaz, 2001,) and Cachaito Lopez's Cachaito ("Wahira," 2001.) He recorded another solo album (Buenos Hermanos, 2003,) and a retrospective album (Ay Candela, 2005) was just released this past May.

Just like his compatriot Compay Segundo, he never took his second chance for granted and toured til the very end.

He and Compay Segundo's recent recordings have been the soundtrack to calm for my wife and I, even so much so that it was the CD we listened to as we went through the labor dance at the hospital this past March. Buena Vista Social Club is the first CD that Eli was exposed to (outside the womb, that is.) Saturday and Sunday, with my folks in town, we listened to a mix of Ibrahim Ferrer's solo stuff, and BVSC... for the first time in awhile. It's probably just coincidence, since we love to pull it out when the weather's warm and we want to relax, but then again...

About the playlist above: it starts with older songs recently released on a compilation (Hecho en Cuba) and goes through his recent comeback first with The Afro-Cuban Allstars and Buena Vista Social Club; his two solo albums; and his vocal appearances with Gorillaz, Cachaito Lopez and Manuel Mirabal (Ferrer's last appearance, released earlier this year.)

Black Monday for Cuban culture (Noel Nicola also died)

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drake leLane said...

Ibrahim Ferrer 1927-2005

* "De Camino A La Vereda" - Ibrahim Ferrer
* "Apuntate Una Mi Social" - Ibrahim Ferrer
* "Manana Me Voy Pa'Sibanicu" - Ibrahim Ferrer
* "Los Sitio' Asere" - Afro-Cuban All Stars
* "Dos Gardenias" - Buena Vista Social Club
* "De Camino A La Vereda" - Buena Vista Social Club
* "Mami me gusto (son montuno)" - Ibrahim Ferrer
* "Aquellos Ojos Verdes (son)" - Ibrahim Ferrer
* "Wahira" - Cachaito Lopez
* "Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contigo)" - Gorillaz
* "La Musica Cubana" - Ibrahim Ferrer
* "Perfume De Gardenias" - Ibrahim Ferrer
* "Boliviana" - Ibrahim Ferrer
* "Deuda" - Manuel Mirabal

Caro said...

I love Ibrahim Ferrer and I will always consider myself lucky to have seen him in concert. I'm writing with a question: I was told that your playlist via Rhaspody is not available in my country (Mexico) and I just had my CD case stolen with my Ferrer CD. I'm going to buy a replacement the next time I'm in a city, but as of now, I'm 5 hours from anyplace with a decent music store. Do you know of any other sites where I can listen to Ferrer? In particular, I'm looking for "Boliviana" which I just heard again on the BBC's Charlie Gillette show (BTW, you might like that program) and remembered how beautiful it is. Thanks!

drake leLane said...

I tried to email you with this (sent to but it bounced back...

The song is available for download (for $0.99) here

I'm not sure if there's a block on buying the tracks in Mexico or not, but it's worth a shot.

Aside from archived radio programs online, I'm not sure of a good place to find it, otherwise:

Here's a few audio tributes that were recently done online:

The Tavis Smiley Show piece on Ibrahim Ferrer in 2003

Fresh Air remembrance (on NPR)

NPR obituary

KCRW's Cafe LA interview in 2001

Like you, I'm glad I got to see him live. I saw him with Reuben Gonzalez, right before Gonzalez died. Also thankful to have gotten the chance to see Compay Segundo just before he died. They were so full of energy on stage, I was shocked at each death... even Compay at 98. They just seemed like they could go forever... touring to the very end.

Bueno Suerte!

Caro said...

huh. i don't know why it bounced, sorry. i'm glad i checked here again. i can't download on my computer here with the firewall they've got at my university (long, stupid story of Mexican bureaucracy at it's finest.) I'll check out the tributes, though. That should hold me 'til I can make a visit to civilization. Thank you so much and should you even find yourself in southern Mexico (probably only if you are horribly lost) I'll owe you a cerveza. Cheers!