Haila María Mompie, I Always Wanted to be a Singer
Considered one of Cuba’s major female voices, Haila María Mompie, or simply Haila, as her fans call her, just recorded her fifth CD “Mala” - Spanish for “Bad” - with which she crowns her dreams of becoming a singer.
Born in Amancio Rodríguez, a remote village in the eastern province of Las Tunas, Haila is now one of Cuba’s most popular singers, acclaimed on stages both within the country and abroad. She has the power to reach the hearts of her audience with her magnificent voice, charisma and the great common sense of her lyrics.
Talkative, just like a typical Cuban, she is also elegant, friendly and, above all, sure of what she wants to achieve. Haila tells Cubaplus that she always wanted to be a singer. “Although my father was not a professional singer, he always sang songs that I listened to over and over again, and my mother, a hair stylist, has great pitch and dances quite well. I inherited my talent from them.”
“Whenever there was a show at school, there I was up on the stage dancing, acting or singing. I knew from the time I was a child that I was going to be an artist,” says Haila. She moved to Havana at the age of 15 and, after finishing high school, started going to the different Houses of Culture in the capital, municipal centres dedicated to the promotion and development of all forms of culture, as well as to all the places she knew could help her with her dreams to sing.
“In the early 90s I started as a dancer in the then famous Cuban band, Los Magnéticos. One day I was lucky enough to meet the talented singer Jacqueline Castellanos, who took me to the Septeto Tradicional (a band that played mostly traditional Cuban music) where I started as a professional singer.
“After three years in that band, I joined Habana Son and in 1994 went to Bamboleo, which I consider like a school for me. I could say that what I am today is due to the work I did in that band.
“And as one always has aspirations and dreams, I left Bamboleo in 1997 and joined Azucar Negra as lead singer. I stayed there until early 2000, when I began a new period in my career.”
“I began as a solo singer and recorded my first solo album, Haila, under the musical direction of Isaac Delgado with arrangements by Juan Manuel Ceruto. I consider this to be a jewel, a tribute to Cuban music.
“I later participated in the CD “La Rumba Soy Yo”, singing with other Cuban musicians. This received the Latin Grammy in 2001.”
Between recordings, Haila has performed numerous concerts locally and abroad, and is among the artists most admired by Cuban audiences.
In 2003, La Diva del Son, as she is known in Cuba, presented her second CD Haila Live, on the BisMusic label, with which she has been working for ten years, under the musical direction of Juan Manuel Ceruto. The CD was a great success in the Canadian market.
In 2005 she recorded her third CD, Haila Diferente, directed by Charanga Habanera director David Calzado. This almost became an anthem, especially the song “Quien Fue,” which was played day and night on the radio, TV and on the streets. “It was really something fabulous”, says Haila. The video clip for “Quien Fue” won the popularity prize in the 2006 Lucas contest, which annually awards the best Cuban clips.
Then came her fourth CD, Tal Como Soy, in 2008.
Produced by David Calzado, this won the 2007 Cubadisco Award. Now in 2011 her fifth CD, Mala, produced by Roniel Alfonso and Aned Mota, is already on the airwaves. “In this new production”, Haila explains, “I fulfill my dream of singing together with our Omara Portuondo (who received a 2009 Latin Grammy) and also singing a duet with Puerto Rican singer Olga Tañon.
“This is an album to enjoy. It’s totally tropical. It has ballads, salsa, cumbia, bachata and some fusion.” Talking about her dreams she tells us, “I have fulfilled many dreams, I sang with Omara Portuondo, with Pablo Milanés (famous Cuban troubadour)… I still want to sing with Marc Anthony. The day that happens, the world will explode.”