El Benny: A Cuban Glory

El Benny: A Cuban Glory

Benny More

Unsurpassed, unique, irreplaceable, one of the most recognized and remembered glories of Cuba of which all Cubans feel proud, known as El Benny or Benny Moré, El Bárbaro del Ritmo (The BMaster of The Rythm) or El Sonero Mayor de Cuba (The Geatest “*sonero”of Cuba). This Cuban singer and composer was born in Santa Isabel de Las Lajas, in a neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo, province of Las Villas, currently belongs to the province of Cienfuegos. His family was of Afro-Cuban and humble origin and peasant.

His first name was Bartolomé Maximiliano Moré Gutiérrez (8/24/1919 – 02/19/1963), when he was six years old his guitar was made with a board and a string reel, this was his first musical instrument. He did not receive any academic training since he had to leave school early to work in the fields.

It is part of the first musical group at 16 (1935). In that same year he met Castellanos and Víctor Landa, at the Jaronú plant where he had moved with his brother to cut cane and they taught him to start playing guitar. El Benny moved to Havana in 1936 and in the capital lives a life full of difficulties, selling beaten fruits, meats, and medicinal herbs. He was attacked by malarial fever in 1939 and spent four years living as he presented the day, played and sang in bars and coffee where he was not well received by the owners who threw him into the street so as not to disturb the customers.

This was El Benny in the beginning, always falling, until in 1940 he submitted to the Supreme Court of Art a contest offered by the CMQ and the second time of his presentation he won the first prize and this facilitated a change in his life, because he immediately got his first job with the Conjunto “Cauto”. He also had great success when he sang on the station CMZ with the Sextet “Figaro” and also performed at the 1010 station with the quartet “Cuato”. When he was singing in “El Templete”, Siro Rodríguez from the Trío Matamoros listened to him and was shocked, later, El Benny passed to sing with this trio, first replacing Miguel Matamoros who was hoarse and with them he made several recordings .

As lead singer of Conjunto Matamoros, El Benny went to Mexico in 1945, had several performances at the XEW and at nightclubs. After these commitments Miguel Matamoros left for Spain and Don Pancho Aguirre, businessman and owner of the Tosa and Montparnasse River, hired him and also helps him to work in the Waikiki, in this center he was welcomed for a year by the owners of Ciro’ s of Tijuana that were admired by his voice.

Already from those times the life of Benny Moré was wrapped in a deserved fame, he married the Mexican nurse Juana Bocanegra Durán in 1946 and the godfather of the wedding was the famous Miguel Aceves Mejías. I act in the Rio Rosa, recorded for the record company RCA Victor with the orchestra of Mariano Mercerón. He made several recordings with Dámaso Pérez Prado. He became known as the Prince of Mambo, recorded “Dolor Carabalí” with Pérez Prado, considered by El Benny as his best piece. He was already a star in several Latin American countries: Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Panama, Colombia and Puerto Rico.

El Benny traveled to the United States as a singer of the Orquesta de Luis Acaraz, considered one of the best in the world. He remained in Mexico for almost 15 years, they were years of triumphs, but his nostalgia for Cuba and his people brought him back to his Island. In his country he did countless jobs on the RHC Cadena Azul radio station and all this magnified his fame.

Later he began to perform at Night and Day cabaret, he was offered a tour of Europe, but rejected it for fear of flying as he had previously experienced three plane crashes. He died of liver cirrhosis in Cuba on February 19, 1963. In 2006 he released the film “El Benny” which is a fiction about his life. Benny Moré, also appears as a character in the novel “The Island of Infinite Loves” by the Cuban writer Daina Chaviano, she culminated her novel with the chapter “Today as Yesterday” one of the best performances of Benny Moré.

Many years have passed since the death of Benny Moré, the “Bárbaro del Ritmo,” our “Sonero Mayor” and nobody can forget that this superb interpreter left an indelible legacy to all Cubans, because, in addition to his musical sense, the Benny had a fluent tenor voice and colored each of his performances with great skill. It was unique in all Cuban musical genres, but it was “the son montuno”, “the mambo” and “the bolero” that stood out the most.

Another of the things that makes us feel his presence is his special way of feeling, being and communicating through his rhythm with extreme simplicity towards his audience. Despite having been a musical glory, El Benny never ceased to be that humble man of Santa Isabel de Las Lajas, so Cubans felt his presence as if time had not elapsed.

*sonero- who sings “son” a Cuban Rhythm now a days called “salsa music”

*the son montuno, the mambo, the bolero – Cuban Rhythms

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