For the first time, the batá drums were broadcast by the radio, outside the temples, and many people even went to the radio station with the purpose of greeting Valdés at the end of the programme. Valdés, already a popular singer, experienced a decisive moment in her artistic career when she met Cuban ethnologist Don Fernando Ortiz. He asked her to work with him, explained to her the extent of his researches, and chose her to illustrate his conference presentations on the influence of African music in Cuba. That is how she began her specialisation process as the main singer in Santería religious ceremonies. At the end of the 1940s she recorded ritual music for the Victor company, and in the 1950s her voice was recorded by the Panart label. This last decade was important for her artistic life: she made intensive tours as part of important productions of the renowned Tropicana cabaret, performing in Paris, Venezuela, and other South-American countries.
At Carnegie Hall in New York she gave the first concert of Afro-Cuban music, with an eighty-strong orchestra conducted by Gilberto Valdés. Their success was so resounding that the they were hired, together with Tito Puente, to make a tour across the United States that extended to Canada. She also sang at the Apollo Theatre in New York. When television was introduced in Cuba, Valdés popularised Afro-Cuban rhythms, and had the opportunity to work with Ernesto Lecuona on a programme called Serenata Cubana. She inaugurated the show in the famous Riviera Hotel, and performed for a long time at the Tropicana cabaret. Over the years that followed she continued working, frequently performing on radio and television, offering concerts both in Cuba and abroad and making records.
Together with the Yoruba Andabo, Oru (directed by Sergio Vitier), and Los amigos groups (the latter directed by Guillermo Barreto, her life partner), Valdés carried out important work rescuing and disseminating African music. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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