Monday, August 08, 2005

From The Better-Late-Than-Never File...

We pre-published writers are a tenacious group. Either that, or we’re just plain stupid. We devote hours and hours to a goal that may never be achieved and for which the benefits along the way are few and far between.

Oh, sure…there’s the occasional contest placement or win. Then there’s the one in ten queries that come back with a request for a partial or full. After awhile, even a glowing critique has to suffice as validation.

Yet, we keep plugging away.

Maybe that’s why I’m playing a CD by Ibrahim Ferrer on my computer today. Not familiar? I’m not surprised.

Senor Ferrer was born in Cuba in the 1920’s and gained local fame as one of the originators of “son,” a pre-revolutionary Cuban music melding African and Spanish sounds which later morphed into salsa. Remember the black-and-white movies set in Cuba during the ‘40’s? The ones full of exotic romance and sultry music? Of seductive hips moving to rhythmic beats under swaying palms?

Unfortunately, the music scene deteriorated with the advent of the Castro era, and Senor Ferrer faded into obscurity before he could gain recognition beyond his homeland. He spent the ensuing years singing very little while supporting himself shining shoes and selling lottery tickets.

But about thirty years later, that all changed. It was then that American musician Ry Cooder and Cuban bandleader Juan de Marco Gonzalez persuaded Ferrer to join a group they’d organized of “Afro-Cuban All Stars” and the rest, as they say, is history. At the 2000 Latin Grammys, Ferrer won “Best New Artist.” He was 73 years old.

He comes to mind because I happened across his obituary this morning. Mr. Ferrer died in Havana on Saturday at the age of 78, but not before spending the last five years of his life touring the world and exposing his music to fans everywhere.

It’s nice to know your dream can happen when you least expect it.


John said...

So, you are going to be published at 73 and spend five years doing book tours?

Anonymous said...

Believe Cooder was Dutch not American.


Brooke said...

Actually, Ry Cooder was born in Los Angeles, CA... Not too many California natives around any more...