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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Santiago Feliú passes away, 51

Cuban troubadour Santiago Feliú.

Cuban troubadour recorded his final album in Argentina last year

Cuban troubadour Santiago Feliú, one of Latin America’s leading singer-songwriters who blew fresh air into the continent’s musical landscape, died yesterday of cardiac arrest. He was 51.

The news was broken by fellow musician Silvio Rodríguez on his weblog (segundacita.blogspot. com.ar), where he rethorically asked what news can you expect from a 4am phone call. It was his way of breaking the news and commenting on the unexpected death of a friend and colleague. “A flurry of words comes to my mind. Many. So many that they stumble upon one another,” Rodríguez wrote paraphrasing the song La tarde, by Cuban musician Sindo Garay. The younger son of Vicente Feliú (one of the founders of the Nueva Trova Cubana music movement), Santiago Feliú became a bridge between two generations.

Born in Havana on March 29, 1962, Feliú was a singer and multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, piano, bass, harmonica and percussion instruments. He penned such beautiful songs as Para Bárbara, Mi mujer está muy sensible, Búscame (sobrevolando un sueño), and Ni las soledades.

Feliú visited Argentina in the early 90s and stayed for several years, befriending musicians like Juan Carlos Baglietto, Fito Páez and León Gieco, among others. He performed with them before heading back to Cuba. “I’m a Porteño from the Caribbean, a habanero rioplatense,” he said in an interview last year. Musing on his love for Argentine music and the Argentine audience’s appreciation of his songs, Feliú said that his songs were “as brainy” as Argentine themes. “I think it has to do with literature, and also the fact that I’m very much a tanguero and that, as a troubadour, the influence of rock is also evident in my music.”

In daily life, Feliú stuttered, which sometimes made it difficult for him to give interviews, but on stage and in recording studios he sang in tune with a harmonious voice. Feliú’s records include Vida (1986), Para mañana (1988), Náuseas de fin de siglo (1991), Futuro inmediato (1999), Sin Julieta (2002), Ay, la vida (2010) and Ansias del alba, an album of duets with his brother, Vicente. Ansias del alba was dedicated to the zapatista resistance movement in Mexico. “I’m attracted to the political discourse and communication strategy of the zapatista movement,” he said.

—Herald with Télam

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