HAVANA.- On-stage she is like an active volcano, able to change from one rhythm to another in less than one hour. Off-stage, she is a modest, happy girl different from the traditional image of great divas.

At 28 years of age -20 of these years dedicated to her artistic career- Cuban singer Laritza Bacallao has managed to become one of the most respected and highly-acclaimed young female Cuban singers within Cuba and abroad.

HAVANA.- On-stage she is like an active volcano, able to change from one rhythm to another in less than one hour. Off-stage, she is a modest, happy girl different from the traditional image of great divas.Her musical journey began when she was barely aware of what she was doing. She carries music in her genes, as inherited from her father and grandfather, who were members of the emblematic Aragón Orchestra and she enjoys it to the fullest.

Laritza spoke to The Havana Reporter about her life, her dreams, and her musical career in Cuba and abroad.

-How has the road been so far?

I have worked hard. It all started when I was 8 years old and I performed on the Radio Progreso program with the Sensación and Aragón Orchestras, it was an unforgettable experience.

Then the album “Aragón Orchestra presents the little princess of cha cha cha“ was released, followed by the tours of Japan and Venezuela and then focusing on my studies in order to graduate as choir conductor (elementary level) and accompanying pianist.

I had a normal life like any other child would, but spent most of my time studying.

-In 2003 you took part in a project in Italy called Street 66. How important was it for your career and training?

-It all started with an offer made to me by the producer Cuqui Cárdenas. It was a compilation of pieces written by her and performed by young Cuban singers. That album opened the doors for me; it was an opportunity for me to make my music known in Cuba and throughout the world.

Later on, I had the chance to join a European tour: a year and a half in Italy with a Cuban company as member of the cast of Bizet’s Carmen. It was there where I developed a curiosity in singing in other languages such as Italian and English.

Upon my return to Cuba I was pretty sure that I wanted to continue my career here and contacted the composer Osmany Espinosa, who offered gave me the chance to perform the piece Que se me ahogaron las lágrimas (Drowned by my Tears). This was my other opportunity to perform before the Cuban audience.

HAVANA.- On-stage she is like an active volcano, able to change from one rhythm to another in less than one hour. Off-stage, she is a modest, happy girl different from the traditional image of great divas.-In addition to being contagious, your music is preferred by a diverse audience ranging from children to the elderly. How do you go about selecting your songs?

-I’m not a composer, I’m not that lucky, but I do have very good friends who compose and others who write catchy pieces. That is the case of Espinosa, the author of the majority of my hits.

As for the audience, I think that in general, they are looking for something different. It’s complicated; you have to listen to every song and analyze it. I don‘t do this alone; my family and friends help me, so that I can get several opinions. So far this has gone well for me.

My entire family came up with the idea of including a retrospective piece- El Buey Cansao (The Tired Bull)- in my first album Solo se vive una vez (You Only Live Once) and there couldn’t be a better orchestra to pay homage to than the Van Vans with this piece. I even had the chance to tell Juan Formell about the project.

Unfortunately, I was unable to hear his opinion (as he had already passed away) but his sons listened to it and liked it. It was a pleasure having made a version of that song, respecting its essence but including new, different elements that would captivate the audience once more.

-How do you imagine yourself 20 years from now?

-I don’t know; the future is very uncertain. But I’m pretty sure that I will keep on singing even if it is at home.

-What is your biggest challenge yet to be accomplished?

-To remain among the most popular performers; this is a very hard challenge indeed.

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