INTERVIEW WITH ELE VALDES
THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A MUSICIAN & MOTHER
I recently visited the Alonso family in Havana on the fortieth anniversary of the group Sintesis, considered one of the emblematic bands of contemporary Cuban music. After various failed attempts to interview Ele Valdes, the wife of Carlos Alfonso and mother of Equis and Eme, I finally gained entry to their home, and was able to get some insight into one of Cuba’s greatest musical families, and the creators of the Fabrica de Arte Cubano.
Her first expression upon seeing me was, “I thought you would be older.” The first things I noticed in their home were the souvenirs and awards from around the globe that adorned the walls. I asked Ele many questions, but one in particular stands out, because of her response. While seated in the backyard I asked her about two of her children’s most important projects, the Havana World Music Festival, and the Fabrica de Arte Cubano. “My children’s success was to be expected. They were both musically inclined since they were young, especially X. I am a proud mother and musician. I would say that at home I am a musician first, and a parent second. I have always had high standards when it comes to music. It is difficult for me to comment on either one of those projects.” She continued, “Do you know what I think was a greatest influence on both of those projects? The musical training that they both received at the National School of Art, ENA, in Havana. Students grow there, they study dance, plastic arts, theatre, and other art forms. It feeds you and fills you with artistic knowledge.” “In the case of X, when he creates music he does it on a visual level, with dancing always in mind. The same for M. I believe that is the most important attribute of both the Fabrica de Arte, and the Havana World Music Festival, music that is multidimensional.”
On that note our interview ended, we later spoke about foreign influences on Cuban music, on the importance of not closing ourselves off from the outside world, or limiting ourselves to one artistic style, and of the richness of our Cuban culture, and the respect that it receives around the globe.
By Clao York