From San Antonio To Maisí, All Cuba Awaits / Juan Juan Almeida

JJ – Willy, like I told you a few days ago, it was a pleasure to meet you and an honor to see you sing. Tell me something, brother, what is your divine formula — or secret — to sound the same in a theater as on a CD?

W – If you’re asking me which is the biggest blessing God has given me in professional matters, I would answer you that more than singing, playing an instrument, writing a song and even entertaining a public, I think that I know how to make an orchestra sound good, or maybe it’s being able to ask each musician that the result be harmonious and with swing. Besides rehearsing frequently and always demonstrating to my musicians that the first one ready to give it his all is me.

JJ – I like your music, that fusion that you succeed in mixing rock & roll with sound in a masterful way fascinates me. Thought and heart, you’re all alchemist. Why does an artist of your stature, a local idol with an impressive musical presence, stay local and go out so little to explore? Do you do it for comfort, love of your native land, lack of time, or is it a question of opportunity?

W – That isn’t so, this past year we gave concerts in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Tenerife, Belgium, Milan, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Mexico City, Guanajuato, Los Angeles, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and it’s possible I’ve forgotten some other place. Traveling more isn’t what interests me. I like dedicating time to my family, too, to my home and my studio.

JJ – “Ya viene llegando” (“Our Day Is Coming”) is an anthem to nostalgia, a song that makes you dance, cry, think. What happens today with that day you dreamt about in the 90s, that you sing about in 2011, that doesn’t stop coming?

W – That question has different answers.

I prefer to think that we still haven’t stopped burning the karma produced by the crimes committed by our forebears since 1492. But today I feel more optimistic than ever that we see the light at the other end of the tunnel.

JJ – A friend we have in common told me that the present Cuban government (and I say “present” to not speak badly of it) won’t let you enter Cuba. Tell me something, Chirino, with so many people who follow you, you singing from your stage and with many who listen to you, why don’t you raise your voice and help me fight against that violation that the same “present” government uses to be able to dominate, punish, and divide the Cuban family and its own citizens?

W – I have not stopped, nor will I stop raising my voice through my music to denounce the horrors committed by this line of thugs who misgovern my country and demand justice for my people.

JJ – I don’t consider myself a politician; but I have political opinions as I have them about art, religion, sociology or sports. What do you think of those artists who use as a leitmotiv the phrase “I am an artist, and do not politically opine”? Do they say that out of fear, opportunism, or because they know the proverb “There is no more politician than the seeming politician””?

W – I believe that every Cuban has the responsibility to denounce the reality of our people, no matter where or how he lives.

Words from our Apostle (José Martí): “When we’re dealing with freedom, everything into the fire … even art, to feed the bonfire.”

JJ – A guajiro in Vuelta Abajo came up to me and said to me one day “If the breeze in Pinar makes a sound, it’s from Willy Chirino.”

W – That guajiro went over the top with his commentary. There is no pay nor applause that might be equal to words like those. What a good phrase for my tombstone.

Translated by: JT

January 13, 2011