CubaPLUS Magazine

The twenties of María Teresa Vera

By: Alina Veranes
Feb 06, 2023
The twenties of María Teresa Vera
María Teresa Vera knew that her destiny would definitely be music and singing the night that, at just 16 years old, she had to repeat her interpretation of the troubadour song Mercedes six times with Rafael Zequeira, accompanied by its author's guitar, Manuel Corona, an event that occurred at Teatro Politeama Grande in the Manzana de Gómez.
The twenties of María Teresa Vera
Born on February 6, 1895, and died at the age of 80 on December 17, 1965, this Cuban singer, songwriter and guitarist shines today in the firmament of national music, not only among her peers, but for a career that surpasses the label of the feminine or masculine and belongs to the absolute.
With an overwhelmingly resonant voice, with a timbre that sometimes suggests fainting, other times metallic or bitter, strange, as if a Nerd were singing to us, the outstanding María Teresa, herself the author of unforgettable and high-quality compositions, stood out more for the composition of the music and the vocalization of the immortal habanera "Veinte años", whose lyrics are the creation of Herminia Aramburu.
To say or sing 20 years, even today, that is to say María Teresa Vera, and it is to mention one of the suns of Cuban music. Of humble origin, this young mestizo, daughter of a Spanish soldier, was initiated and sponsored in her artistic training by the brilliant non-academic author Manuel Corona, so that, well endowed, she knew how to take advantage of being able to drink from the best possible source. She had begun to study guitar with the cigar maker and teacher of the instrument José Díaz.
iIn 1918 she traveled with Zequeira to the United States and there they had the opportunity to perform and record several songs with their well-matched duo specializing in Cuban melodies. Later she traveled again to New York and from 1922 she was able to record with Zequeira and Corona some 149 works in a period of 10 years, through an exclusive contract with the RCA Víctor firm. With Zequeira's death in 1924, a period began in her life in which she performed either alone or accompanied by other voices in duets, quartets and sextets, including Miguelito García, Justa García, Dominica Berges and Lorenzo Herrezuelo.
She thus became present with a continuous work that maintained her essential quality, despite the evolution of the times and the advance of the new rhythms that continued to enrich the Cuban musical endeavor. Not only did she make twenty-year-old habanera-style songs, she also sang sones, boleros, guarachas.
In 1947 she toured Yucatán, Mexico, in the company of Hierrezuelo and upon her return she continued collaborating in radio spaces that did not forget the best traditions of Creole troubadour culture, which by the middle of the 20th century was already part of recent yesterday. Among the pieces composed by her are "Why I feel sad", "You don't know how to love me", "I want you to know".
We already said it, none was as brilliant as Twenty Years, with her masterful music and voice.
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