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Press Release









(Chicago, IL, April xx, 2018) – After enjoying one of its most successful editions last year, the Festival Cubano pumps up the volume for its ninth annual celebration of all things Cuban. The Festival Cubano Foundation, producers of the Festival Cubano, recently announced the headliners for the three-day event to be held Friday, August 10 thru Sunday, August 12 on the beautiful grounds of Riis Park, corners of Narragansett and Fullerton on the city’s Northwest side.


For a second year in a row, the Festival opens on Friday the 10th with a night dedicated to Freestyle and House Music curated by WBMX-FM 104.3 DJ Julian Jumpin’ Pérez. This year’s lineup features such chartbreaking genre megastars as Lisa Lisa, George Lamond, The Cover Girls, Lissette Melendez, Safire, The Cover Girls, 2 in a Room, Tim Spinnin’ Schommer and Pérez himself as the evening’s MC.


The party continues the following two days with what could be called “A Gathering of Soneros.” Venezuelan bandleader and vocalist Oscar D’León’s improvisational and musical showmanship will be on full display on Saturday, August 11. Puerto Rican sonero Gilberto Santa Rosa will be bringing his 40 y contando World Tour to the Festival’s stage on Sunday, August 12. But among Cuban music aficionados, the anticipated return of Adalberto Alvarez y su Son to Chicago, after their explosive 1999 performance at the much-missed Hothouse, before Santa Rosa hits the stage will be the Festival highlight.


“We are proud to bring back to our city one of the architects of contemporary Cuban son and salsa. Adalberto’s return to Chicago was long overdue,” said Festival Cubano founder and producer George Herrera. “We packed the park last year with Victor Manuelle so, of course we had to invite his mentor Gilberto Santa Rosa to our Festival! Gilberto and Adalberto are planning something special for the Festival’s grand finale!


“Oscar D’León is another performer with strong connections to Cuba and its music; he’s bound to bring the house down on Saturday night. And the success of last year’s Freestyle and House showcase proved that both genres never went out of style. Julian has curated a program designed to set the right celebratory tone. This is, without a doubt, our most ambitious lineup yet,” added Herrera.


Besides music from Cuba and Latin America, the public will enjoy during the Festival Cubano a wide variety of Cuban and Latin American dishes, arts & crafts booths, an expanded carnival area on a new location inside the park, a beer lounge and hand-rolled cigar bar, cooking demonstrations and cook-offs, a domino tournament, the popular Kids’ Zone, a health pavilion, music and dance workshops, and school supplies giveaways, among other features.



While Juan Formell, Chucho Valdés and José Luis Cortés were redefining (and rewriting) Cuban music by incorporating a dollop of funk here, a teaspoonful of r&b there and a dash of hip-hop creating new genres in the process, Adalberto Alvarez stayed true to the Cuban son, the source from where all Cuban music springs from. And yet, he has expanded the genre’s range with his complex arrangements and harmonies. Raised in Camagüey, Cuba, Alvarez at first wanted to be an airline pilot, but coming from a musical family (his father directed the Avance Juvenil orchestra), Adalberto was soon bit by the music bug. He became the arranger and director of his father’s orchestra and in 1978 founded Son 14, with whom he wrote and recorded such hits as “A Bayamo en coche” and “El son de la madrugada.” In 1984 he forms Adalberto Alvarez y su Son after leaving Son 14 with the intention of exploring the musical connections between son and salsa. Adalberto Alvarez y su Son has been a hotbed of talent since its inception, attracting such legends as Felix Baloy and tres player Pancho Amat and launching the careers of other musicians and singers such as Jorge Luis Rojas González, a.k.a. Rojitas. Adalberto’s songs have been recorded by Juan Luis Guerra, Sonora Ponceña, Andy Montañez and this year’s two headliners, Oscar D’León and Gilberto Santa Rosa. Adalberto Alvarez y su Son’s new album, De Cuba pa’ todo el mundo will be released in May.


Gilberto Santa Rosa, El caballero de la salsa, has never been shy about his love for Cuban music. He’s shared the stage with Adalberto Alvarez on several occasions and recorded his songs as well as those by Juan Formell, Amaury Gutiérrez and Pablo Milanés. Santa Rosa made his musical debut as a vocalist on a televised Christmas special in his native Puerto Rico in 1975. His work for such orchestras as La Grande and Puerto Rico All Stars led him to Willie Rosario and his Orchestra with whom he recorded such hits as “Lluvia” and “Botaron la bola.” Santa Rosa launched his solo career in the late 80s with Combo Records and in 1990 signed with Sony Discos, recording with the latter such landmark albums as Perspectiva (1991), A dos tiempos de un tiempo (1992), Esencia (1996) and Directo al corazón (2006), among others. Santa Rosa debuted on Broadway in 2013, when he was an invited guest in the revival of Forever Tango at Walter Kerr Theatre. He recently released the single “El amor de los amores” performed with Victor García and la Sonora Sanjuanera.


Known around the world as El sonero del mundo, El león de la salsa, and El diablo de la salsa, Oscar D’León is indisputably one of Afro-Caribbean music’s best showmen, improviser and vocalist. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, D’León started playing the bass guitar at a very young age, performing in local conjuntos. He was influenced by such Cuban legends as Beny Moré and la Sonora Matancera from an early age. His career took flight when he co-founded Dimensión Latina in 1972 with whom he recorded such hits as “Pensando en ti.” He began his solo career in 1977, recording such beloved classics as “Mi bajo y yo,” “Juancito Trucupey” and “Juanita Morell” with his band La Salsa Mayor. In 1991, D’León signed with salsa label RMM and released El rey de los soneros (featuring the hit single “Padre e hijo” recorded with his son Yorman) and Sonero del mundo produced by Cuban-American singer-songwriter Willy Chirino.  He has shared the stage with Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, José Alberto “El Canario” and Arturo Sandoval. Winner of one Grammy and four Latin Grammys, D’León has recorded over 50 albums; one of his most recent recordings, Clásicos de Big Band, gives a distinctive Afro-Caribbean spin to such songs as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way,” “Perhaps” and “Strangers in the Night”.


Recently hired as WBMX-FM 104.3 JAMS’ first full-time air personality, Julian Jumpin’ Pérez began his dj’ing career at the age of 14, promoting and spinning his records while in high school. In 1983, he was featured as a weekly guest dj at the station that was then known as WBMX; while there he entered a nationwide Battle of the DJs competition and became one of the station’s Hot Mix 5. In 1986, Julian began producing his own music and remixing records for such artists as Queen Latifah and Pet Shop Boys. In 1988, he joined B-96 after WBMX was sold and there founded the B-96 Mix Show. In 1994, he created the B-96 Street Flava, a show dedicated to what was going on in streets and night clubs of Chicago. He eventually moved to a prime-time slot teaming up with Tim Spinnin’ Schommer and Candi. After leaving B-96 in 2002 and working at a rival station, he returned to B-96 where he became its Mix Show director.


Lisa Velez’s dreams of becoming a recording star led her to the same night club where Madonna was discovered by Jellybean Benítez: the Fun House, a non-liquor serving hangout for rappers and breakdancers. There she met Full Force producer Mike Hughes who was thinking of forming a group and invited the then 16-year old to an audition. Signed to Full Force’s production company her name was changed to Lisa Lisa and with guitarist Alex Spanador Moseley and Hughes as drummer on board, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam was born. The group was signed by Personal Records and their hit single “I Wonder if I Take You Home” was chosen by the European division of CBS Records for the compilation album Breakdancing. The single went gold once it was released in the United States. Their first two albums –Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force and Spanish Fly– went platinum. After recording a third album with Cult Jam, Straight Outta Hell’s Kitchen, Lisa Lisa went solo with LL77 featuring such hits as “When I Fell in Love.” She also starred for two years in the Nickelodeon series Taína. Her most recent album Life ‘n Love was released in 2009.



Festival Cubano will be open Friday August 10 thru Saturday 11 and Sunday 12, 11 am – 10 pm.

Admission starting at $15. Free admission for children 10 and under.

Tickets can be purchased online at THECUBANFESTIVAL.COM




Festival Cubano is produced by The Festival Cubano Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c3) organization dedicated to preserving the culture, history and arts of Cuba. The foundation supports arts education through programs, celebrity ambassadors and its popular Festival CUBANO. The Festival Cubano Foundation hosts diverse cultural events throughout the year partnering with locally based organizations schools and other not-for-profit organizations influencing the arts at a national level.



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