Buena Vista Social Club singer celebrates 85th birthday at NJPAC

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Friday October 14, 2016


Buena Vista Social Club singer celebrates 85th birthday at NJPAC
By: Marty Lipp

When baby boomers with a touch of grey leave a concert after seeing 85-year-old Omara Portuondo, the usual response is, “I want to be her when I grow up.”

Portuondo ‘” whose career was reborn with the unlikely international phenomenon called the Buena Vista Social Club ‘” radiates an enviable glow of warmth, joy and grace as she takes to the stage, as she will on Saturday evening at NJPAC in Newark. While she walks slowly these days ‘” after all, her tour is celebrating her 85th birthday ‘” her smile leaps out quickly and captures audience members’ hearts.

Asked recently about the enthusiastic reception she gets from audiences, she said through a translator, “Oh my dear! I can’t find the words to thank people.” She adds, “I have to confess that still nowadays I get a little nervous before each show, but from the minute I see the audience and the music starts, my heart gets all the love and energy to sing.”

Portuondo was never a belter, but was always a more elegant, intimate singer and her voice remains a lithe instrument. On this tour, she is sharing the stage with several top-flight jazz musicians, including Roberto Fonseco, Anat Cohen and Regina Carter.

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