Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés died on Monday night at the age of 79 after being hospitalized in Madrid for more than a week. Milanés, one of the most recognized voices in Cuban music, was the founder and architect of the Nueva Trova sound along with other renowned artists such as Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola.
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Author of classics like YolandaMilanés published more than 40 albums throughout his career and won, among others, the Cuban National Music Award and the Latin Grammy for Musical Excellence.
His last artistic tour, light days, brought relief to the mythical singer-songwriter by singing again and being in contact with the public. The last dates announced in Spain, Mexico and Santo Domingo were postponed due to a worsening of various conditions linked to the health problems that had afflicted him for decades. Years ago he had moved to Spain to treat an oncohematological disease.
“Music is everything to me, the best way I find to express myself, the best way to feel and even think. I think that musicians have another very special language, which allows us to communicate, that is something unique”, confessed the artist, born in Bayamo (east) on February 24, 1943. In fact, he stated that his best recitals, “the more open and spontaneous, they occur before the public of my island”.
Last June, Havana hosted his last performance in Cuba. And it was quite an event. The tickets for the first proposed stage, the National Theater, were sold out shortly and the protest of their followers, rising like a tide on social networks, resulted in the transfer of the concert to the Coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva, with a capacity of four times higher. The Cuban public then saw Milanés arrive on the set in a wheelchair, an image that for many was an omen that the health problems dragged on for decades had worsened.
This visit to Havana also meant reuniting with his family on the island five months after the unexpected death of his daughter Suylén due to a stroke at the beginning of 2022. Milanés has lived in Vigo since 2014, together with his last wife and manager , the Galician historian Nancy Pérez, with whom he had two children.
Founder of Nueva Trova together with Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola
Founder of the Cuban Nueva Trova together with Silvio Rodríguez and the late Noel Nicola, a musical movement charged with political overtones, Milanés was during the last decades one of the figures of Cuban culture most critical of the island’s political system.
“In 1992 I was convinced that the Cuban system had definitely failed and I denounced it,” he declared after the anti-government protests on July 11, 2021 on the island, the largest in decades.
The creator of “Para vivir”, “El breve espacio en que no estás” and “Amo esta isla”, then reiterated his confidence in the Cuban people “to seek the best possible system of coexistence and prosperity, with full freedoms and without repression ”.
Last September, Milanés was part of the hundred Cuban artists and intellectuals who signed a civil society manifesto and spoke on social networks for the promotion of changes in their country “within a spirit of sovereignty, inclusion and respect for the human being.” , to their dignity and most basic aspirations”.
Throughout his life, Milanés entered the operating room 29 times, mainly due to chronic necrosis of the femoral head, but also due to a hernia and kidney failure, which led him to undergo a kidney transplant donated by his woman in 2014.
Added to this is his suffering from Dupuytrén’s disease, a disease that caused his hand to gradually close and prevented him from playing the guitar for several years. In 2017 he moved to Spain to treat a type of cancer that affected his immune response.