Though he was raised in Artemisa, an hour outside of Havana, Alex Cuba’s artistry is as far-flung as the place he settled and has lived in for over ten years: Smithers, BC, 14 hours north of Vancouver. His music at once incorporates his roots in these vastly divergent places and is a unique amalgam of styles: He’s a ringer for the Afro-sporting Sly Stone of the `60s, collaborates with peers ranging from Nelly Furtado and Jason Mraz to Ron Sexsmith, and brings together melodies, pop-soul hooks and rock chords in songs that bear little resemblance to any traditional Cuban form. His aptly self-titled new album perfectly reveals his singular sensibility: Although sung mostly in Spanish, the new tracks are as accessible as the most popular American music. Having passed up major label deals to remain independent, Cuba will release the album, which just garnered him his third Juno Award nomination, on his own Caracol Records June 8, 2010.
Remaining independent and working with a handpicked team of music and business collaborators, Cuba has organically amassed a steadily growing following among critics and fans around the world. As Billboard has said, “Staying true to his Spanish-language folk-funk-rock hybrid has paid off.” His 2007 album, Agua del Pozo, earned him his second Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a GRAMMY). Cuba has had four iTunes Singles of the Week (Canada, U.S., Japan, Netherlands), has charted on various iTunes charts in Canada, the U.S. and Japan, has built an impressive online community and has had major content features on Myspace, Yahoo!, AOL and other portals. The Boston Globe says, “He’s like Marvin Gaye, singing soul to a new generation,” The Miami Herald calls him “a fantastic guitarist, like Jimi Hendrix with island spice,” and The New York Post says, “Even if you don’t understand a lick of what he’s saying, you’ll feel him.”
Cuba recorded the new album at Baker Studios in Victoria, B.C. and released it last October in Canada. Featuring surprising new grooves, innovative electric guitar inflections and varying tempos and structures, the album is a natural but bold step in Cuba’s ongoing musical revolution. The first single, “Caballo” (Horse), a Cuban-funk-rocker, was also made into video conceived and produced in Smithers. Other highlights are “Solo Tu” (Only You), a moving, mid-tempo rock ballad; “Tierra Colora” (Red Soil), a samba-rock-surf-punk sizzler; and the funk tune “If You Give Me Love,” Alex’s first song in English.
Cuba recently collaborated with Nelly Furtado on her Spanish language debut, Mi Plan (My Plan), which was released to acclaim in September 2009. He co-wrote a number of the album’s songs, including the #1 single “Manos Al Aire” (Hands in the Air) and the title track, where he joins her on vocals.
Cuba’s high-energy music translates especially well in live performances. He will begin a U.S. tour in New York City in early June; dates will be announced soon. He just played three shows at the 2010 Winter Olympics in (relatively nearby) Vancouver. He will be featured in the BMI-presented panel "How I Wrote That Song," April 28th at the Billboard Latin Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.