Cher to release new album, 'Dancing Queen,' next month

Cher will release "Dancing Queen," a new album of Abba covers, on Sept. 28, Warner Bros. Records announced on Thursday.

The singer and actress -- who has won Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy Awards -- was inspired to record the album following her performance in the recently-released hit film, "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," according to the announcement.

"I've always liked Abba and saw the original 'Mamma Mia' musical on Broadway three times," Cher said. "After filming 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,' I was reminded again of what great and timeless songs they wrote and started thinking 'why not do an album of their music?' The songs were harder to sing than I imagined but I'm so happy with how the music came out. I'm really excited for people to hear it. It's a perfect time."

The album was recorded and produced in London and Los Angeles with Cher's longtime collaborator Mark Taylor, who previously produced Cher's global hit single "Believe."

Cher released a teaser video for the album's first single, "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!," Wednesday night.

Cher is scheduled to be awarded a Kennedy Center Honor on Dec. 2 in Washington DC. She is also a co-producer of the "The Cher Show," the upcoming Broadway musical opening on Dec. 3, and will be touring Australia and New Zealand in September. She is currently performing a residency at MGM Resorts in Las Vegas.

Check out the track list below:

  1. Dancing Queen
  2. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
  3. The Name Of The Game
  4. SOS
  5. Waterloo
  6. Mamma Mia
  7. Chiquitita
  8. Fernando
  9. The Winner Takes It All
  10. One Of Us
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Cuban Septeto Santiaguero Will Be on its First Local Tour

Santiago de Cuba, Jul 25 (Prensa Latina) Septeto Santiaguero (ESS), an emblematic group of Cuban traditional music, will begin its first national tour at the end of the year, reported Mario Escalona, director of the Recording and Musical Editions Company (EGREM).

During the presentation of 'A mi que,' a tribute to the Cuban classics, the most recent album of the ESS, its director, Fernando Dewar, also announced that in the coming months they will perform in Mexico, the United States and Europe, which will consolidate the vast international trajectory of these musicians.

On the other hand, Alden Gonzalez, manager of 'El Septeto Santiaguero,' alluded to the close links with the EGREM and the continuity of the record work from the beginning with the companies 'Nube Negra' and 'Picap,' as well as the third production they will do for the trilogy with the Dominican Jose Alberto alias The Canary.

As usual in the ESS' phonograms, it has collaborations of world-class artists such as the Canary, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Pancho Cespedes, Edwin Colon and Krency Garcia, 'The Prodigy', along with Cubans Alexander Abreu and Orlando Valle, 'Maraca'.

With a Grammy Award in 2015 for 'No quiero llanto-Tributo a Los Compadres,' the septet has been nominated on three other occasions, including one for the Anglo-Saxon version of those awards.

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Sting lashes out at 'coward' leaders over migrants' fate

British singer Sting lashed out against world leaders on Saturday calling them "cowards" for failing to resolve the refugee crisis, praising though the role of Greece.

"Thank God for Greece because you have shown the way," said Sting, at an Amnesty International event in Athens ahead of his performance Saturday night.

"You have shown how to treat refugees when other people are building walls. When children are being taken from their mothers and put in cages, you are acting with compassion and generosity and commonsense," he said according to Athens News Agency.

Trump on Wednesday ordered an end to the family separations which have sparked domestic and global outrage but the fate of the more than 2,300 separated children has remained unclear.

"Because our so-called leaders, a sad parade of half-men, cowards, have not got the solutions. Democracy began here in Greece, you are showing us how to be civilised again", Sting added.

Greece, with a population of 11 million, recorded 58,661 asylum applications last year, making it the EU member state with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita, according to official data.

French President Emmanuel Macron came out Saturday in support of financial sanctions against EU countries which refuse to accept migrants.

"We can not have countries that benefit hugely from EU solidarity and claim national self-interest when it comes to the issue of migrants," he said at a press conference in Paris alongside Spain's new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

On the eve of a mini-summit about the divisive migration issue, the two leaders also declared support for the creation of closed reception centres where migrants would be held while their asylum claims are considered.

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A Cuban named Alexander Abreu

He carries the island tattooed on one arm, in his voice and in his heart; they call him Cuba because among so many well-earned titles: trumpeter, singer, composer, arranger, director, producer ... he prefers to be defined, simple and deeply, as “a Cuban”.

What a luxury to have in the newsroom of CubaSi, the leader of Habana D' Primera band and one of the most important creators of popular dance music in Cuba.

 Alexander Abreu

Habana D' Primera, ten years later, how much has it evolved, how much remains?

"It started as a children’s game –I would say–, "with the idea of
​​accompanying artists who left the studios with important records and did not have a band to defend these productions, and we had the need to create a repertoire of our own in order to be able to live, to be able to keep the band, never with the idea of ​​belonging to the lines of first-level bands, and the result has really been a surprise for everyone”.

“First, because I am a trumpeter, I do not have vocal training, like the singers who study this profession, and second, because, as our times go by, urban music trends and all those things that too reach the island, as they reach everywhere, then, making Cuban music in these times and being able to collude with the youth is a bit difficult, anyway, it seems that the work has been achieved”.

What do you think have been the keys for that success?

“I think the background that I have had through my years of work as a trumpeter helps me. I had the opportunity to work a lot, a lot, a lot ... Seven and a half years that I worked in Paulo FG’s orchestra, when this orchestra was composed of very important musicians –the best musicians of Cuba of that time for me–, honestly, in a time, where there were so many musicians it's a bit strong to say that they were the best, but for me it was an ensemble of very important musicians such as Juan Manuel Ceruto, Emilio Morales, maestro Julio Montalvo with the trombone, Frank Rubio at the bass, Carmelo Adre, my trumpet teacher, anyway ...

“This background, this possibility to work with these music greats and, at the same time, respect for Cuban music, and I say that because I think that Habana D' Primera has ingredients from all the ensembles that preceded us: it has a little from Irakere, from Afrocuba, from NG La Banda, and a lot from Van Van”.

The train of Cuban music, also a locomotive for Habana D' Primera?

“Van Van, Juan Formell, the most important pattern of Alexander Abreu, because he has been a person who has transcended over many generations. I was seven years old and was dancing in Cienfuegos with Van Van; today I am 42 and Van Van remains with an amazing force setting the standard of the music we make. It is no secret that Juan Formell is Alexander Abreu’s main pattern to follow, and I believe that a bit of all these ingredients is the system to be able to have an own stamp, an identity, looking for the way to have an urban poetry that everyone can understand, with lyrics and themes that can reach people, and can be identified, and actually the result has been, until today, outstanding, not only in Cuba, but all over the world as well”.

 Alexander Abreu

How important are the lyrics within popular dance music to you?

“It's everything, it's the message. You can have a very strong musical system, you can be a musical genius, but if you do not have a message within what you are displaying, you have nothing, and in Habana D' Primera we have a fairly rigorous work with these things, looking for a way to interact with the popular slang, phrases, although, we know they are not within the system of Spanish as such, but Cubans tell them and, at the same time, making it work in the whole world for those who speak Spanish so, they can understand us, but it has been achieved. We also seek a way for a 14-year-old girl to say "how beautiful that song is", and that a tough guy likes it too; building this bridge is very difficult, anyway, we have achieved it”.

How do you define Habana D' Primera?

«Modesty aside, it is no secret that when Habana D' Primera came out, Cuban music was in a dream stage; I say dream because we never lost these great creators who have done a lot for Cuban music throughout all these years, such as Manolito Simonet, José Luis Cortés, many creators who have made history and continue to make history; but there was a dream stage, because even what I was recording inside the studios as an instrumentalist had low pressure, even, the boys who were studying in the art schools had different leanings, and I think Habana D' Primera has been an engine that has driven this work in a huge way.
Today, there are several new ensembles displaying Cuban music strongly, youth that is defending that music, and I believe that Habana D’ Primera has a bit to do with that. I see Habana D’ Primera like an engine that has driven new generations, even great musicians who were living outside Cuba, to return to the island and display their work too, why not”.

And who is Alexander Abreu?

“A Cuban. Alexander Abreu is a fruit of this country, with all the energy that can be described”.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff


Symphonic Concert Opens Arts Festival in Cuba

A concert by the Philharmonic Orchestra of the University of the Arts of Cuba will inaugurate the 9th Arts Festival, an event by the high studies house to take place from June 11 to 17, according to the organizers.

The performance will be held at 21:00 local time and will be hosted by the capital's Mella Theater, where the Brazilian singer Fabiana Cozza will appear on stage as a special guest.

The festival, considered one of the most important events organized by this artistic school, will gather more than 600 local and foreign participants, said in a press conference the rector of the center, Alexis Seijo.

Aimed at establishing a permanent dialogue between the artistic expressions and promoting the work of young creators, the festival proposes an intense program for this edition that includes all art expressions placed in different parts of the city.

Students from universities in Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina and the United States will be present at the event, which includes stage presentations, exhibitions, audiovisual projections, competitions, lectures, master classes, work demonstrations and workshops.

The Bertolt Brecht Cultural Center, the Hubert de Blanck Theater, the Villena Hall of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, Plaza 31 and 2, and the Cuba Pavilion are among the main venues of the festival.

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Omara Portuondo Showcases Cuba's Talent in New Album

Renowned Cuban singer Omara Portuondo released her latest album, "Omara Siempre," which showcases a collection of songs with fellow Cuban artists, in Havana Thursday.

The 87-year-old, best known for her work as a singer in the "Buena Vista Social Club," her powerful voice and her magnetic charisma is widely regarded as the grande dame of Cuban music.

Portuondo told Reuters, she hopes that the international recognition she receives for the album, which features local talents such as  Aymee Nuviola, Isaac Delgado, and Alain Perez, would give other Cuban artists a chance to shine.

Portuondo, who won a Grammy Award for her album "Gracias," told Reuters her new collection of songs also has a strong sense of Cuba, and she was happy to add it to her catalog of work.

"This doesn't mean that this is the last thing I do, but I feel very satisfied that people accept my way of saying things, of singing, and all that is a great satisfaction because I represent the culture of my country. And so I am Cuban, and I will die being Cuban," she said.

Nearing 90 and still working, Portuondo shows no signs of slowing down with international showcase performances in support of her album scheduled.

"It's a gift from the very large legacy Omara leave us every day. It's something that exists. It's true. Omara is peerless, her feelings, her way of speaking, interpreting."

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Pure Feeling!

Past February 28th, Elena Burke would turn 90 years old. She was (is) one of the greatest Cuban singers of all times, key character of feeling. We approach that huge career…

Those were the years of splendor of feeling, that expression that fed from our deepest musical traditions and also (to a certain degree) of jazz, the music of blacks. The feeling was not just a genre; it was an attitude towards life, a feeling. Among all the singers who defended this genre (who really felt it), a group of stars, creatures of Havana nights, among all those singers who sang and told as if singing were saying and vice versa, among all of them one shone above the rest: Elena Burke.

Many people consider Elena to be the most complete and autochthonous singers of the Cuban song. There is no way of deciding those hierarchies in art; it’s not healthy to do so either. The truth is that Elena was unique. A warm voice, of deep resonances, a singular scenic presence (she went on stage—says a friend of mine who saw her sing in night clubs in the 60’s—and everything else ceased to exist, you could not help but look at her), a very eloquent sensuality when saying…

Elena discovered unsuspected twists to the songs she performed, and not just from the musical point of view (her variations were delicious, she gave them interesting melodic lines, always coherent with the spirit of the song); also in the intentions, in the interpretation. She multiplied the senses, she went beyond the lyrics, she suggested without the need of being explicit.

Good taste, natural good taste that was not attached to the Cuban spice. Funny, she was indeed, vulgar never—I heard her say once in a radio show. It had to do, of course, with her training, by the hand of rigorous teachers; but mainly, with the respect to the public.

She could be hilarious, but also harrowingly dramatic. Her transitions could be sudden and overwhelming. With a unique economy of expressions, moving just the necessary, she was able to recreate an atmosphere.

Mrs. Feeling, no better nickname for her. She sang songs written by the greatest authors in our panorama. Everyone admired her. She had tons of followers; she still has them, 15 years after her death. That voice is saved.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Hollywood Announces Nominees to Oscars in Music Categories

Los Angeles, Jan 24 (Prensa Latina) After the announcement in Hollywood of the candidates or nominees in the different categories of actors and movie pictures, the US Recording Academy (formerly the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences or NARAS) mentioned the names of the aspirants to win the Oscar Awards in the musical aspects.

Among the aspirants, one of the names is the one of US female rhythm and blues (R&B), soul and hip-hop performer Mary J. Blige, for the Oscar for Best Original Song, nominated here Tuesday with the song called 'Mighty River', for the film called 'Mudbound'.

Mary J. Blige is accompanied in the competition for the Oscar by US songwriter Sufjan Stevens, with a song called 'Call Me by Your Name' for the movie soundtarck for the film with the same name, and rap singer Common, singing together with Diane Warren with a song called 'Stand Up for Something' composed for the film 'Marshall'.

In the same category as Best Original Song, Kristen Anderson López and Robert López were nominated for their song 'Remember Me', for the animated film 'Coco'; as well as Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who aspire to the win with 'This Is Me', from the feature film 'The Greatest Showman'.

In the category of Best Soundtrack, there is the guitarist of the group Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood, for his orchestrated work for the film 'The Invisible Thread'.

Greeenwood competes against very famous international musicians in this category, such as Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, John Williams and Carter Burwell.

The 90th edition of the Oscars will be at March 4, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

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