Buena Vista Social Club Entertain Barrack Obama With Historic Gig

Buena Vista Social Club Entertain Barrack Obama With Historic Gig
White House Tom Lohdan / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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Legendary musicians Buena Vista Social Club Thursday became the first Cuban band to play at the White House in more than half a century.


After President Barack Obama welcomed the Grammy Award-winning group with the kind words, “Bienvenidos a la Casa Blanca (Welcome to the White House),” the Cuba group belted out four songs, including the hit number “Chan Chan,” in a performance to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Obama, who purchased his first Buena Vista Social Club CD “around 1998,” expressed his appreciation for the iconic band. “For nearly two decades, this group has been a symbol of the strong bonds between the American and Cuban people – bonds of friendship and culture and, of course, music,” he said, before adding, “I just hope they enjoy their stay. And I hope that I look as good as they do in a few years.”

The concert comes amid warming relations between the U.S. and Cuba – Cold War foes whose leaders shocked the world almost a year ago by restoring diplomatic relations after 50-plus years of hostility. Obama and Raul Castro, Cuban President, have met twice since their historic announcement last December.

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Jose Cabanas, the first Cuban ambassador to the U.S. in 54 years, was also in attendance.

The Buena Vista Social Club initially started as a members-only venue in Havana, the Cuban capital, for musicians based in the island nation between the 1940s and early 1960s. Over the years, the membership of the band has undergone changes as several seniors have stepped back or passed on. They are currently on a global farewell tour performing under the name “Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.”