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Series 1: 2. Cuba



Continuing his journey through Latin America, Huey arrives in Cuba to explore a country at a moment of reinvention. Cuba plays a unique part in the story of Latin American music - after the communist revolution of 1959, the country effectively closed its doors to the sights and sounds of the rest of the world. \n\nFrom this point, Cuban music evolved in isolation from the other Latin-speaking countries, with traditional forms placed at the heart of their sound. The rhythms and melodies of Cuba’s people have captured the hearts of fans all around the world, and now that the government is gradually relaxing restrictions, more music is being released from Cuba than ever before.\n\nHuey sets off from the capital Havana to explore the rich musical legacy of the island as well as getting a taste of things to come. Rumba is the foundation that Cuban music is built upon so Huey decides to check out the local scene and learn a little of how sex appeal is a crucial part of that beat. \n\nBut it isn’t all about hot dance moves - music is a central part of the Cuban education system, where kids get eight hours of free music tuition every week. Huey heads to one of Cuba’s many conservatoires to see a group of children rehearsing and meets up with one famous graduate, percussionist and singer Brenda Navarrette. Another musician making authentically Cuban music, but with a modern perspective, is Roberto Fonseca, the young pianist who got his break playing with Buena Vista Social Club and is now taking his own music around the world.\n\nHuey discovers that one of the biggest challenges for musicians in Cuba today is not having access to the internet - across Havana you see groups of people clustered around government-designated ‘hot spots’ trying to get online - but what they find once they are on there is heavily censored. But Huey has heard about an ingenious solution. El Paquete (the Package) is a physical pirate internet, a drive containing all the latest films, music and news that is delivered by hand to users once a week. Huey joins one of the delivery guys to see what new music people are listening to! This mix of the old and the new is where Cuba is at its best, and the musicians are keen not to lose sight of what makes them unique.\n\nHuey ends his journey by checking out Cimafunk at the Havana World Music festival. It’s clear that change is already here, but the sound of Cuba’s past is the sound of its future too.

Source: BBC 4

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