Matanzas and Cuban Culture

Photography by Chantal James

Images and notes from Cardenas and Matanzas, Cuba. More photography by Chantal James















",,,in 1950 a piece sung by an almost unknown singer named Benny Moré became popular. In his spoecial voice, Benny sung the lyrics

Who invented this mambo that turns me on?

Who invented the mambo that drives women mad?

Who invented that crazy thing?

Who invented that crazy thing?

A short little guy with the face of a seal!

'Cara de Foca' (Seal Face) was one of the nicknames given to pianist and arranger Pérez Prado, originally from Matanzas.

In the popular composition, the songwriter stated plainly that he, Dámaso Pérez Prado, had invented the new rhythm which became the rage

in Mexico and then throughout the world. However the history of any art-form shows that no creator...creates from nothing...it is easy to detect what Pérez Prado owes to Orchesta Arcaño and Orestes López...in the 1970s the 'King of Mambo' acknowledged his debt..." *

*Leonardo Acosta. From The Drum to The Synthesizer. Havana, José Martí Publishing: 1987