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Queens of Havana: The Amazing Adventures of Anacaona, Cuba's Legendary All-Girl Dance Band Hardcover – October 28, 2007

5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

This evocative memoir is a joyous, rhythmic history of the 11 sisters who formed the fabled Cuban orquesta Anacaona. Forced to abandon her studies after political events prompted university closings in 1932, Cuchito Castro got six of her younger sisters together to play son, a blend of African rhythms and Spanish melodies, even though women were thought incapable of mastering the complex style. The band attracted attention on the radio and at night in Havana's open-air cafes. As Cuchito's other sisters grew into their teens, they joined Anacaona, and the group soared to international fame with recordings, films, TV, appearances with jazz greats and triumphant European tours, as seen in the 140 ads, menus, photos and posters scattered throughout the text. Saxophonist Alicia, now 87, regales her niece Ingrid with tales of the sisters' romantic escapades, Havana nightlife and sensual melodic midnights. The Castro sisters' story reverberates with exotic echoes of a fabulous long-ago era. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (October 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802118569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802118561
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 7.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,501,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is well written, with a complete history of the familiy, mixed-race parents (Chinese-Black) and a lot of daughters enough to form an orchestra that was the base for future generation of all-women orhestras to come. Life in Cuba during the 30's and further is depicted as well as the extensive travel to places all over the world.

Now, the pictures in the book is another story. There are plenty like I've never seen before, with them when young, with a lot of personalities like Alberto Socarras (famous flute player and orchestra director), Celia Cruz, Mario Bauza, in Cuba as well as overseas in nightclubs, theaters and many, many other places. The book is worth every penny just in the strength of the photographs and the price is a steal. This book really belongs to your library.
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This book is a must read for anyone who is into the music and history of one of Cuba's most magical periods. The Castro sisters' music, energy and adventures are incredible. They went through time with some of the best that we also know; son musicians such as the Buena Vista Social Club members, Omara Portuondo, and many other Cuban greats, as well as jazz superstars from all over the world. What a treasure to have Alicia Castro record these memories!
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Queens of Havana is a book that all music lovers should pay attention to. It is very well written. It shows the struggle of a very altruistic family who made it in the midst of being so many children growing up together in in physical poverty, but with a very rich dreams. They had a very well established sense of belonging together. The patriarch came to Havana from a very poor country enviroment, and he believed in culture, he read and self-educated himself to become an extraordinary father of 11 daughters and two sons.
The old Anacaona band has all my respect and admiration. They reigned over different styles of Cuban and international repertoires.
Being born in 1956, I didn't have the privilege of listening to them, since their lives changed after the destructive and hateful dictatorship of the Castros took over. But boy....I would have loved to have danced to their music back in the pre-Castro years when Cuba was Cuba...and life was way more enjoyable (for Cubans, not only for tourists)!!!
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