My Havana: The Musical City of Carlos Varela
For more than thirty years, musician Carlos Varela has been a guide to the heart, soul, and sound of Havana. One of the best known singer-songwriters to emerge out of the Cuban nueva trova movement, Varela has toured in North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe. In North America, Varela is “Cuba’s Bob Dylan.” In Cuba, he is the voice of the generation that came of age in the 1990s and for whom his songs are their generation’s anthems. My Havana is a lyrical exploration of Varela’s life and work, and of the vibrant musical, literary, and cinematic culture of his generation.
Popular both among Cubans on the island and in the diaspora, Varela is legendary for the intense political honesty of lyrics. He is one of the most important musicians in the Cuban scene today. In My Havana, writers living in Canada, Cuba, the United States, and Great Britain use Varela’s life and music to explore the history and cultural politics of contemporary Cuba. The book also contains an extended interview with Varela and English translations of the lyrics to all his recorded songs, most of which are appearing in print for the very first time.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 324 pages
- Illustrations: 4
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
‘Impressively, the book has come to exist in two versions: English and Spanish. Such a production is highly commendable, even inspirational… The book provides much of value for readers unfamiliar with Varela and Nueva Trova.’
Notes: quarterly Journal of Music Library Association vol 73:01:2016
‘The book makes an excellent case for Varela’s cultural significance… My Havana reads like a love letter to Carlos Varela…. It makes a strong case for the inclusion of Carlos Varela in the cannon of Cuban musical greats.’
New West Indian Guide vol 90:2016
“Carlos has hit a nerve in the Cuban people; his music has expressed what most people are thinking, but are not saying, something that they couldn’t verbalize, couldn’t even see ... and I think that is the power of his music.”
Benicio del Toro, actor, 'Che'
“Just as singer and songwriter Carlos Varela is a unifying figure for his generation of Cubans – a generation fragmented by ideology and migration – so My Havana puts scholars from different countries and traditions together in harmonious dialogue to present a rich picture of a musical icon.”
Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, University of Miami
Author InformationMaria Caridad Cumaná, formerly an adjunct professor in art history at Havana University, is a film critic and writer living in Miami.
Karen Dubinsky is Professor of History and Global Development Studies at Queen's University. She is the author and editor of several books, including Within and Without the Nation: Transnational Canadian History (2015).
Xenia Reloba de la Cruz is the editor of the journal Casa de las Américas, published by the Casa de las Américas in Havana.
Table of contents
Preface (Jackson Browne)
Introduction: Varela’s Musical City (María Caridad Cumaná and Karen Dubinsky)
1. Carlos Varela: The Distinguished Son of William Tell (Joaquín Borges-Triana)
2. The Persistence of “Memorias” (Robert Nasatir)
3. “Politics don’t fit in a sugar bowl” Cuba in the ‘90s through the music of Varela (Xenia Reloba de la Cruz)
4. Carlos Varela and the Carousel of Cuban History (Karen Dubinsky)
5. A Singer Who Uses the Guitar as a Camera: The Cinematic Quality of Carlos Varela’s Songs (María Caridad Cumaná)
6. Singing the Cityscape: Varela as Urban Chronicler (Susan Thomas)
7. Carlos Varela, Protest Song, and Cuban Music History (Robin Moore)
8. Carlos Varela: A Cuban who knows the past but can also see the future (Paul Webster Hare)
Interview: Beginning a New Cuban Dream: An Interview with Carlos Varela (María Caridad Cumaná and Karen Dubinsky)
Appendix: Lyrics of Varela’s recorded songs, in English and Spanish
Subjects and Courses