01 October 2009

Legendary Cuban singer granted American travel visa

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A world-renowned vocalist who started her career in the Cuban music scene in the 1940s has been granted an American travel visa, allowing her to perform in two concerts in the US in October.

American travel visa

Jazz artist Omara Portuondo is one of the first Cuban artists in nearly six years to be granted an American travel visa.

Omara Portuondo, a member of the celebrated Buena Vista Social Club, is one of the first Cuban artists in nearly six years to be granted an American visa to perform in the US.

The granting of the American travel visa to perform in the US comes just a few days after her 2008 album, Gracias, received a Latin Grammy nomination for the Best Contemporary Tropical Album category.

Portuondo will be performing as part of the 2009 San Francisco Jazz Festival at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco on October 20, and later that week she will perform on the campus of UCLA on October 23.

The granting of the American travel visa to Poruondo has been hailed as an example of the Obama Administration's efforts to improve relations between the US and Cuba after more than four decades of tension.

Born in Havana in 1930, Portuondo became a dancer at the famous Tropicana cabaret when she was still a teenager, later spending 15 years touring and singing with a group that had a distinct Cuban version of the bossa nova with touches of American jazz.

Portuondo launched her solo career in 1967 amidst the Cuban revolution spending decades successfully touring and performing, but her career was propelled to international centre stage via her performances for the 1997 album, Buena Vista Social Club.

The Grammy-winning album and the accompanying Oscar-nominated film made Portuondo an international sensation.

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