CAPTIVATES HAVANA AUDIENCE
DOMINICAN diva Maridalia Hernández
performed November 9 in Havana, as part of the 2nd
Popular Voices Encounter, having waited 35 years,
she said, to visit Cuba.
in Havana, Maridalia Hernández
and Sonia Silvestre (right).
The singer, along with her 12-musician
band, charmed the audience with boleros, bachatas,
sones and merengues. She included a
number of Cuban compositions in her repertory, by
the likes of David Torres, Evelin García Márquez (arranged
by Gonzalito Rubalcaba), Amaury Gutiérrez, Adalberto
Álvarez and a classic by Eliseo Grenet.
Her version of Grenet’s lullaby "Drume
negrita", with spectacular orchestration, especially
in the final habanera line which she took
toward a pop-Afro sound, creating a version which
could well be taken up by Cuban salsa singers.
Her performance and comments made
clear that Cuban music is heard abroad more than we
imagine. "In the Dominican Republic," Maridalia said,
speaking with this reporter in her dressing room, "Cuban
music has always been heard through a variety of
means. Now we use all the modern media, but Cuba,
She was about to visit the country
some 35 years ago, for the 11th World Festival of
Youth and Students in 1978. She was left behind with
her bags packed, she said, because her parents
wouldn’t let her go. "I was 19 years old, living in
Santiago de los Caballeros, where I was born. I was
studying lyric opera and training to be a music
teacher. Now, at 54, I’m fulfilling my dream of
singing and enjoying myself in Cuba."
Maridalia’s concert took place in
the National Theater’s Covarrubias Hall, with the
singer displaying the ease, the natural grace, so
typical of the Dominican people, very similar to the
residents of Cuba’s eastern provinces.
She possesses a well-trained voice
with a particular timbre and knows how to develop a
song, with the talent to perform the role of Mary
Magdalene in the rock-opera Jesus Christ
Superstar (1982). She adds a touch of
meringue and bachata to her performances,
accompanied by typically Dominican small percussion
instruments, such as the tambora, guayo metálico
She has been known in Cuba since
1983, as a founding member and principal soloist for
Juan Luis Guerra’s popular group La 440, along with
Mariela Mercado and Roger Zayas-Bazán. In Cuba, we
heard the news of their success.
In 1986, she took first place in the
Viña del Mar Festival in Chile with her song
"Para Quererte" by Manuel Tejada and
José Antonio Rodríguez and subsequently presented a
spectacular show entitled Para Quererte...
Maridalia in Santo Domingo. This same year, she
was awarded a number of prizes, the Dorado, Casandra
and El Soberano, recognizing her as a distinguished
female voice, producer and Performer of the Year.
After her exit from La 440, she was
seen in special performances with Alberto Cortés,
with her compatriot pianist Michel Camilo in the
Madrid Jazz Festival and in 1989 she won third place
honors at the OTI Festival OTI with Juan Luis
Guerra’s song "Te Ofrezco."
By 1994, as a well-known established
performer, she was granted the Best Female Singer
prize at the 27th Association of Latin Critics
awards ceremony in New York.
After all this success, Cuba finally
had the privilege to welcome Maridalia Hernández, in
addition to Sonia Silvestre, a long-time friend of
Cuba, who made a surprise appearance at the concert.
"It has been a pleasure, a huge,
very strong emotion to be in a country where there
is so much music and so many great composers whose
work I perform in my concerts. After this outpouring
in which me subió la bilirrubina, (I
got very excited, phrase from a popular song), I
hope that my visits will include more options and
more time to spend with Cuban friends. We’ll leave
this to destiny, the same destiny which brought me