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Teresita Fernandez: the music of all Cuban children

Date: 2018-09-10 13:21:44

Havana, Cuba. - We all have at least one childhood fond memory that includes her, whether "Gatico Vinagrito", "Dame la mano y danzaremos" or "Tin, Tin, la lluvia cayo."  She left a very deep mark in the memories of Cubans and Latin Americans. Not only her contemporaries, but many who grew up with her songs, do not know the full extent of her work that went way beyond children's songs, although she is a symbol and bulwark of it.

Teresita Fernandez, singer-songwriter, guitarist, pedagogue from Villa Clara, Cuban and Jose Marti follower, is one of those names that after physical death lingers forever in the collective memory.

Her creations combine sonorities of ancient ballads and peasant folklore. In the panorama of Latin American songs for children, she rounded up a triangle of great masters whose other vertexes are Mexican Francisco Gabilondo-Soler and Argentinean Maria Elena Walsh.

She was self-taught and began to sing since the age of four on CMHI radio station, in her hometown, at the Hora Martha show, directed by her mother Amparo Garcia.

Since she came to Havana, she devoted herself to Trova, composing and singing her own songs that saw the light since the 1950’s.  Ramon Veloz, well-known exponent of Cuban country music, was the first to sing one of her songs: "Cubano, mira tus palmas."

Prominent Cuban intellectual Guillermo Rodriguez-Rivera said in his “Ensayos Voluntarios” that Teresita became popular in the 1960’s.  She stepped into Cuban musical scene with the help of the Marti Sisters, in “Arlequin Hall”, a show that was attended by Sindo Garay and Ignacio Villa, Bola de Nieve, with whom she also performed at the Monseigneur restaurant.

Teresita anchored the radio shows “Musa Traviesa” and “De regreso”, and was a founder of TV shows like “La Casita de Azucar” in 1960. Six years later, the founders of “El Caiman Barbudo”, artistic-literary magazine, paid tribute to her in the theater hall of the National Museum of Fine Arts.

Some of her achievements were the founding of “La Peña de los Juglares”, in “Parque Lenin”, where she featured prestigious personalities of national and international culture. This space, shared with narrator and pedagogue Francisco Garzon-Cespedes, has made a great contribution to oral narration in Cuba.

Through short stories narration on stage, she encouraged the creation of similar events, such as “La Peña del Brocal”, founded in Camagüey, in 1987.

Since 1988, she started playing on international stages, including “Jornada Dariana” (tribute to poet Ruben Dario) in Nicaragua; and the II Ibero-American Festival of Oral and Stage Story-Telling in Monterrey, Mexico, where she won the Shaman Prize. In our own homeland, she was also conferred high decorations, such as the National Culture Award, the Raul Gomez-Garcia Order, the replica of Maximo Gomez’s machete and the most important of all: immortality within the history of Cuban music.

Translated by Pedro A. Fanego

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