Eliades' Biography

Eliades Ochoa was born in Santiago de Cuba on June 22, 1946, in the town of Songo la Maya, Santiago de Cuba. Eliades is considered one of the most important Cuban soneros of all time; a notable defender of traditional Cuban music and the best guitarist of his generation. His distinctive cowboy hat and penchant for wearing black have led some to call him “Johnny Cash from Cuba.”

From a very young age he began to play the guitar, with his parents of peasant origin as teachers and in a self-taught way, from a very young age he alternated with itinerant troubadours. In his rambles through guateques, bars and “tolerance zones” he began to learn the vast traditional repertoire of Cuban music, of which he is now a master. His musical style is due to his place of origin, the Cuban countryside, the anecdotes he listened to, the peasant guateques and a series of other elements that marked him and gave rise to the artist he is today.

Eliades joined the Eastern Typical Septet in 1969 and officially entered the Casa de la Trova in 1970, where he began to perform regularly. In 1982 he was part of the Cuarteto Patria, as director, arranger, voice and lead guitar. He assimilated the repertoire of the Homeland with his own style, keeping alive the tradition of Cuban folk music since 1940. He demonstrated his introspective capacity and on a formal level, the expressive resources he had served as a hook to show his love for Cuban music. His style as a guitarist gave a new stamp to the group. Also in the 80s, he participated with Compay Segundo and the Cuarteto Patria in various artistic tours and with him he recorded the first version of “Chan Chan”. The way in which Eliades was inspired to create the lead guitar chords for this iconic song has remained a hallmark that inspires troubadours and listeners.

Eliades is one of the stars of Buena Vista Social Club, with this album he won his first Grammy in 1997 in the category of Best Tropical Latin Performance. In 1998, Eliades collaborated with Manu Dibango on the album CubAfrica. In 1999 and 2000 he was nominated for a Grammy under the category of Best Tropical Latin. In 1999 he was nominated for an Oscar with the documentary film Buena Vista Social Club.

Among his most notorious albums with Virgin Records we can highlight “Sublime Ilusión” with the production of John Wooler and the special participation of Charlie Musselwhite, David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and Ry Cooder himself. This album takes a turn for Eliades’ career by being released around the world and by performing live in the United States and Europe, filling rooms and theaters. “Sublime Ilusión” was nominated for a Grammys in the category of “Best Traditional Tropical and Latin Album”. “Tributo al Cuarteto Patria” is an album that recognizes Pancho Cobas, founder of Cuartero Patia, and the troubadours and composers who have inspired Eliades Ochoa’s career. With this album, Eliades was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of “Best Traditional Tropical and Latin Performance.”

In 2010 he recorded the album Afrocubism accompanied by his group Patria and important musicians from Mali. Project that gave way to Buena Vista Social Club. This album was recognized by National Geographic as the best album in the world that year and in 2012 it was nominated for an American Grammy.

In 2012, he released the album “Un Bolero Para Ti” where he delighted his audience with sublime melodies. This album won four Latin Grammy Awards.

He has collaborated in the record productions of Enrique Bumbury, Luis Eduardo Aute, Manu Dibango, Jarabe de Palo, Blof Umoja, Charlie Musselwhite, Moncho, Armando Manzanero, Descemer Bueno, Pablo Milanés, among others. In 2013 he was selected to participate in a tribute album to Bob Dylan, performing the song All along the watch tower, from the album Another World, A tribute to Bob Dylan.

In December 2018, “Eliades Ochoa de Cuba al mundo” is released, a documentary about Eliades Ochoa’s artistic career directed and produced by Cynthia Biestek. This documentary has been awarded with many awards and has been presented in major film festivals worldwide.

Eliades Ochoa continues to create and compose music. This 2020 she delights us with her new musical production “Vamos a Bailar un Son.”

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