Havana, May 26 - From Neris Amelia Martinez Salazar she became a charismatic artist, assuming her best known name: Juana Bacallao, who is turning 98 on Friday.
As she became one of Cuba’s greatest vedettes, Juana la Cubana, as everyone calls her, is celebrating nearly a century of life on Friday, together with those great moments that have led her to the recognition, with a capital letter, of her work, her stage presence and even her extravagance.
Juana is the corporeal form of an enduring expressive practice of art in Cuba, which set standards in national culture of the 19th century: the buffo theater, coupled with the interpretation of a musical repertoire that is very popular.
She is undoubtedly Cuba’s show woman, as she was named by her discoverer, Maestro Obdulio Morales”, young singer and composer Jorge Soto, who belongs to the catalog of the Adolfo Guzman company, said recently.
Soto and the diva sang “Bailando con Juana” (Dancing with Juana), which reached the top charts in 2017 and 2018, and shows the boldness and diversity in her.
About her origin as an artist, she said, “Morales, a friend and distinguished director of Cuban orchestras, heard me sing one day on the stairs of the house where I was working, he prepared the song that gave me an artistic identity later and said, ‘You are going to be Juana Bacallao;’ when I resolutely claimed the ugliness of the name, the musician answered me, ‘Yes, but it will bring you luck.'”
American singer Nat King Cole; Bola de Nieve, Rosita Fornes and Benny More, from Cuba; Mexican actor Mario Moreno (Cantinflas), and Italian vedette Rafaela Carra shared the stage this artist, who, even though she is still in her nineties, makes the audience vibrate at her shows.
Even on the streets of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Juana is very popular because authorities and residents of that city decided to name a street after her.
The avenue was created after a purely Dominican merengue song performed by the women’s orchestra Las Chicas del Can.
Juana la Cubana is celebrating her 98th birthday and continues to take over every stage on which she performs. (Text: Prensa Latina)