With the help of Canadian singer Justin Bieber’s remix, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” garnered popularity. Its video became the most-watched on YouTube with over 6.5 billion views, which subsequently bolstered more global interest in Latin music.
Though this interest helped the genre’s popularity, famous pop songs fragmented Latin music overall. The prevalence of the reggaeton and trap subgenres have left less recognition for artists of different styles.
Canadian Juno and Latin Grammy award-winner Alex Cuba aims to change this through his music. Cuba comes to Winnipeg to perform at the West End Cultural Centre (WECC) on Nov. 22 and will celebrate the release of his seventh album, Sublime.
The WECC’s booking co-ordinator Jorge Requena Ramos says “Cuba’s music is something anyone can welcome, from grandmother to teenager. He is like a Cuban Hendrix, with rich guitar layered over excellent vocal work.
“His music draws from traditional Cuban music and modern influences to create something unique, and any artistic director should want Alex Cuba in their venue.”
The concert will be two 45-minute sets of music comprehensive of his career. Cuba says, “this show is working out to be quite interesting, because the first set has a lot of changes in tempo and rhythm, so the audience can expect a night full of variety.”
The Globe and Mail describes Cuba as an artist who “emphasize(s) emotions over words,” which refers to him performing across language barriers. Cuba transcends these barriers through his interactive performances and award-winning songwriting. He highlights that he wants his music to have positive messages of peace and affirmations that life is worth living.
“Songs just come to me. I do not have to look too hard for them,” he says.
“Life inspires me, and there is a lot to talk about. When I am happy, that is the moment when I love writing music. When I am not happy, I do not write, and I do not like music during that time.
“It took me a while to discover that about myself, but when I did, I embraced it, and it made my music even better.”
Noting that he wants to create music that people can listen to for years, Cuba discusses the change in Latin music reception and its fragmentation in Canada.
“I have been in Canada for 20 years, and when I initially arrived, I never dreamt of sitting in a Tim Hortons café and hearing Latin music, which (has become the norm) in the past few years,” he says.
“That is an amazing thing. “
He says that as Latin music has various styles, playing popular songs ubiquitously can have an adverse effect on such a diverse genre.
“It was great that everyone got to hear (“Despacito”), but it was scary, because that is the fast food of Latin music,” he says.
“Popular songs like that create a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have people who now think they know what Latin music is, and on the other, if you do not have (popular) tracks on stage or do not know how to play a guitar, you look weird.”
The WECC is located on 586 Ellice Ave., and doors open at 7:15 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite and start at $20.
Published in Volume 74, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 21, 2019)