Ivette Cepeda, singing is a gift...

Ivette Cepeda, singing is a gift...

Music

By Mercy Ramos, Photos by Jose (Tito) Meriño, Alejandro Palmarola, Abel Machado and Mark

When Ivette Cepeda decided three decades ago to become a teacher because she loved teaching and her country needed teachers at the time, she never thought her passion for singing would, years later, make her one of Cuba’s most admired singers.

Ivette Cepeda, singing is a gift...

Her magnificent voice, her powerful interpretations and her unique way of expressing feelings sum up the reasons this unique singer has transcended Cuban borders.

I always liked to sing, I think it was a passion I nurtured since childhood,” Cepeda told Cubaplus.

Winner in 2011 of a Cubadisco Award (Cuba’s record industry’s most important) with her live recording Estaciones (Seasons), Cepeda has dedicated her art to Cuban popular music for two decades with no distinctions in genre; she sings equally a son, a bolero, a bossa nova and, of course, songs from the Nueva Trova movement.

“During my life as a student I participated in all the music contests, both in high school and college, and always got first place, although I had never studied singing. I was even given the opportunity to switch to art studies while studying education at the university but never did it” said Cepeda.

“When I finished college I took up teaching for 14 years and stopped singing. However, one day I decided to leave the classroom because I had family and health problems that required me to take break.

“Shortly after, fate decreed I take up singing again. A friend called me to replace the singer performing at the Neptuno Hotel in western Havana. I prepared three songs and the audience liked me so much that I had to stay there a while.”

Ivette Cepeda, singing is a gift...

From that time, almost unexpectedly, Ivette Cepeda’s artistic life began. Besides working as a soloist in several hotels in the Cuban capital, she has participated onstage in major musicals, including the Cuban-Bahamian show Caribe for three years at the Crystal Palace in Nassau.

She also participated in the shows Buenavista Salsa Havana presented in the Deutsche Theatre in Munich, Germany, and Son del Trópico, with which she toured northern Spain.

Her eyes take on a special glow when talking about her work. “Singing is not just the act of singing, it’s to send a message, a part of life, and to do that you need to study and know to be able to choose which part of music you will defend and which part of life you get to illuminate for others, hence, I consider singing a gift of nature.”

“I’ve never worked for awards, but I think the awards granted by specialists and critics are important; to me, the most important prize is the affection and respect from the people.”

In 2012, Ivette has planned several presentations in Cuba and abroad, including an important tour of several U.S. cities.