Anacaona is the name of an all-female orchestra, founded Havana in the early 1930s by Concepción "Cuchito" Castro Zaldarriaga and her sisters. Eventually, all 11 sisters joined the band. The band was formed during the Machado era when the political situation led to university closings, forcing Cuchito Castro to abandon her studies and her plan to start a dental practice. Instead, she chose a different career in 1932 by proposing a female septet to challenge the male-dominated son music. At the time, it was believed women were not capable of playing son. The band enjoyed close musical ties with well-known Cuban performers, in particular with Ignacio Piñeiro and Lázaro Herrera of the Septeto Nacional. Graciela, whose brother Machito laid the foundations of Latin Jazz, was Anacaona’s lead singer for a decade.
Cuchito's sisters and friends came together as a group, naming it after the Taino queen Anacaona. The septet made its first official appearance in February 1932, at the Payret Theater in Havana. Performing on the radio and also nightly in the aires libres, open-air cafes, they soon found an enthusiastic audience. The members of the original 1932 septet were Isabel Álvarez, Berta Cabrera, Elia O'Reilly and the four Castro sisters–Ada, Olga "Bola", Cuchito and Ondina. Later on Caridad “Cachita”, Emma, Flora, Alicia, Argimira “Millo”, Xiomara and Yolanda joined the jazz band. Anacaona toured Cuba (1933), Puerto Rico (1935), Mexico (1936), Panama, Colombia and Venezuela (1937). In 1937 the septet published three records with RCA-Victor, then the worldwide leading music label. In the winter of the same year the Anacaona septet was the top act at a newly inaugurated night club on Broadway called „Havana Madrid“. The band was invited to perform at NBC's New York radio station, at the Hotel Commodore, Hotel Pierre, and the Waldorf Astoria where a show was held for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday. The band travelled on to Paris in 1938 with Alberto Socarrás, known as the “Magician on the Flute”. Anacaona was a smash as a jazz band in Les Ambassadeurs on the Champs-Elysées. Later in the evening the Anacaona son septet alternated with Django Reinhardt and his Quintett du Hot Club de France at the Chez Florence in Montmartre. Shortly before World War II the band returned to Cuba.
With concerts in New York and Paris, Anacaona rose to international fame.1947 Anacaona starred for two seasons in the musical show of the Casino Nacional of Havana under the direction of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona. The band made its screen debut in the film “A La Habana me Voy” (Off to Havana I go). They appeared in several other films in Mexico together with film star and rumba dancer Ninón Sevilla. Popular female singers such as Celia Cruz, Omara Portuondo (Buena Vista Social Club), Haydée Portuondo, Moraima Secada and Dominica Verges joined Anacaona during the forties and fifties.
Performing as a show band that played Mambo, Cha-cha-chá and Latin Jazz, Anacaona toured through South America in 1958 and appeared on radio and television as well as in theaters in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. Meanwhile the revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro were on the move and had taken over when the band returned to Cuba. In 1962 Anacaona joined Cuba’s National Council of Culture (Consejo Nacional de la Cultura) and later became part of the Ignacio Piñeiro state enterprise for traditional music. Although internationally the band faded from view, it remained very popular in Cuba and the original line-up continued to play until 1989.
The band was reorganized in 1989. The remaining five Castro sisters chose to leave the band, which is still active under the lead of Georgia and Dorita Aguirre, the band's bassists.
Since 1991 Anacaona has recordeded several CDs and performed in more than 20 countries, including the United States, Canada and China. On the occasion of the band’s 85th anniversary it toured Cuba in 2017.
They have traveled over 20 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, America and the Caribbean performing at major festivals and many more scenarios among which are: The tour of 34 cities in the PRC, and their participation in the play “the Tropical Bourgeois “led by Gerome Sabari, inspired by Molière’s classic,” the Bourgeois Gentleman “tour in August 1999 for some cities in the United States where he also held an emotional reunion with Graciela Perez , singer and founder of Anacaona and the show “Taste of Havana” that opened the season at Cabaret Cuban shows the Grand Casino Monte Carlo Monaco." target="_blank">Try watching this video on
The orchestra has also participated in several films like “Beauty of the Alhambra” director Enrique Pineda Barnet, “Parallel Lives” by Pastor Vega and Cuban-Swiss co-production, “Black Neighborhood” and in the documentary “The route rhythm “of the filmmaker Harry Belafonte,” Anacaona, 70 years after “director Jorge Aguirre, produced by Cuban television and a music documentary made by NHK of Japan.
ANACAONA is considered “The Illustrious Women’s Orchestra of Cuba” and is among the top-level groups of Cuban popular music.
Genre: Contemporary, Balad and general music
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Personal: 17 people.
- Bass & music direction .
- Vocal & Percussion
- Vocal & Percussion
- Vocal & Percussion
- Drums & Timbal
- Bongo & Flute
- Congas & chorus
- Trumpet 1
- Trumpet 2
- Trombon 1
- Trombon 2
- Piano & Keyboard
- Tres & guitar
- Sound Engineer
- TMJ Staff
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