MIAMI, United States. – 51 years ago in Santiago de Cuba the great Miguel Matamoros, singer, guitarist, composer, founder of the Trío Matamoros and author of essential songs within the Cuban musical repertoire.
Matamoros was born in the same city of Santiago de Cuba, on May 8, 1894. Although he had no academic training, he successfully ventured into almost all genres and rhythms of Cuban popular music. His musical production exceeds 200 titles.
In life, he achieved immense popularity and fame. Many of his songs are considered true classics that have been covered by numerous stars of Cuban and international music.
Numerous biographies recall that before his consecration as an artist Matamoros held various jobs in addition to being a musician: he was a repairman of telegraph and telephone lines; he worked in the copper mines of Oriente; He was a messenger, house painter, carpenter, sawyer, farmer, private driver and worked in the Bacardi rum factory, among other occupations.
In 1923, Matamoros recorded one of his best-known compositions for the first time: “Mamá, son de la loma”. In addition, other songs of his, such as “Lágrimas negra”, “El que sowing his corn” and “Santiaguera”, among others, achieved immense popularity.
According to the journalist Walter G. Magaña, Matamoros’s repertoire “includes pieces of the finest Antillean musical gold work.” According to this author, the man from Santiago was “a troubadour with fresh ideas, eloquent rhythm and good taste who knew how to add humor to his compositions”.
“In the index of his creations, which include sones, boleros, guarachas and other genres from the wide repertoire of the Cuban popular songbook, he shows conceptions of the purest flavor of his eastern province. Works that, due to their high melodic and rhythmic quality, remain in force and appear refreshed in new versions”, also indicates the specialist.
For their part, numerous scholars of Cuban popular music have highlighted Matamoros’s creative ingenuity and, particularly, his “natural and vigorous intuition”, together with his “rich oral culture”.
With these gifts, the musician was able to creatively synthesize Afro accents and rhythms with old Hispanic romances and songs, Magaña recalls.
On the other hand, “the lyrics of his compositions have been studied by writers and psychologists and continue to enjoy modern interpretations today. There is no musician who can resist the spell of the Matamoros son”, concludes that author.
In fact, the relevance of Miguel Matamoros is such in Cuban music that, to celebrate the Day of Son, the date of May 8 was chosen because it coincided, on that day, with the births of the great singer Miguelito Cuní and Matamoros himself.
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