María Teresa Vera, who is sometimes called the “grande dame of Cuban music,” is honored with a Google Doodle.
Google is honoring Vera on February 6, 2020 on what would have been her 125th birthday. “Her lifetime accomplishments in music have a lasting impact and inspired a tribute album, ‘A María Teresa Vera’ (‘For María Teresa Vera’), a collection of songs recorded to celebrate her 100th birthday,” Google wrote.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Vera Is Regarded as the Greatest Female Trova Singer of All Time
According to All Music, Vera was a trova singer, and she was “one of the form’s greatest singers.”
She was at her peak singing years during the early part of the 1900s, when it was very rare for a woman to be a singer in that way.
All Music describes the trova style as a “rural folk song style,” and says that it laid the foundation for Cuban popular music in future decades.
2. Vera Was Born in Guanajay, Cuba in a Bohemian Community
Google wrote that it was honoring Vera for her work composing “the nation’s rural folk song style, trova.”
She is one of Cuba’s most important musicians, and she was born there, in Guanajay, in 1895.
According to Google, she was playing guitar at a young age as she came of age in a “bohemian community of trova musicians.” They were called “troubadors,” and they were “wandering street entertainers” who taught Vera a lot of her music.
By 1911, she was performing in concert in Havana.
3. Maria Teresa Vera is Described as a ‘Musician’s Musician’
The Chicago Tribune described Maria Teresa Vera as “a rarity: A black woman in Cuba.”
The newspaper explained how she lived through the Castro revolution. Her compositions were “yearning ballads with a sophisticated and rich lyrical imagery,” The Tribune reported.
The newspaper added that Vera’s songs are an intricate part of Cuban culture but she is “more a musician’s musician than a popular figure.”
You can find some of her music on Amazon.
4. Vera Died at Age 70
Unfortunately, Vera didn’t live into very old age, robbing the world of the other compositions she might have created.
She died in 1965 at the age of 70.
There is a small theater in her name in her hometown.
5. Vera Was the Granddaughter of Slaves & a Spanish Military Official
Vera has an interesting family background.
According to the blog, Rincondeyudith, she was descended from slaves and a Spanish military official. After the independence war, they moved to Cuba.
She was influenced by the composer and guitar player named Manuel Corona, the blog says.
She eventually studied guitar with a guitar master. By age 16, she was performing to audiences.