Havana, Cuba. – The name of Lourdes Margarita Torres may sound unknown to most. However, if we just say Lourdes Torres, everyone will realize right away that it is a popular Cuban singer and songwriter with an amazing musical curriculum.
She was born in Guanabacoa in 1940 and her musical career began when she was 12 years old. She joined Maria Adams’ choir and sang with it many times in the Major Comedy Theater. Then in 1953, Lourdes Torres experienced one of the landmarks of her lifetime.
She was only 13 years old when she visited Maestro Ernesto Lecuona to show him her singing skills. When she heard her, the remarkable Cuban musician gave her the score of his song “Sin encontrarte.”. He accompanied her at the piano in her debut and young Lourdes Torres had to sing it again at the audience’s request.
She was Ernesto Lecuona’s disciple and the maestro farsightedly wrote about her: “Lourdes Torres has a warm voice, with a privileged and velvety tone and great character (…) she will get far if she develops her skills appropriately, namely character and voice. That´s how Rita Montaner and Esther Borja started. Lourdes is a discovery of mine that will be a great success.”
After her first performance with Lecuona, the young singer continued her path in lyrical singing, under his guidance. In the meantime, she also studied music theory, piano, ballet and singing at Havana Municipal Conservatory. She had remarkable professors, like Alberto Alonso in ballet, and Zoila Galvez and Maria Adams in singing.
In 1956, at the age of 16, she started singing popular songs. Soon after, she became the vocalist of duets, trios and quartets, like “Anaya”, where she also played vibraphone. The young singer from Guanabacoa was likewise soloist in the popular Luis Santi’s band. In “Tropicana” Cabaret, she joined the mezzo soprano segment of Paquito Rodino’s choir, which accompanied celebrities like Nat King Cole and Mexican Pedro Vargas. As a soloist, she shared the stage with stars of the size of Benny More, Fernando Alvarez and Orlando Vallejo.
In 1961, she became lead singer of “Los Modernistas”, a vocal ensemble with which she shared 32 of the 33 years of its existence. After this experience, she went on as a soloist and sang in Cuba and overseas scenarios, namely Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, the former Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.
We must also highlight her work as composer, since she has written over 200 songs of the most diverse genres. Some of her best-known titles are “Un nuevo sentimiento me sorprende” and “Fue asi que te olvide.” More than 60 singers in our country have included the latter in their repertoire.
“Los Modernistas” was founded in 1960 by Miguel de la Uz and Gilberto Aldanaz, both coming from “Los Faxas.” There was also Eugenio Fernandez, who had been part of a similar ensemble in “Tropicana” Cabaret. The female voice in those days was not Lourdes Torres, but Yolanda Brito, who came from “Los Astros” quartet and the choir of CMQ TV and radio station.
In 1961, singer Yolanda Brito left “Los Modernistas” and its members convened an audition to choose her successor. The third of 22 candidates was chosen. It was no other than young Lourdes Torres, who was meant to stay 32 out of the 33 years of existence of the ensemble.
In their 33 years of musical career, the quartet always offered a varied repertoire that included diverse genres, like traditional Trova, bolero, guaracha, mozambique and ballads. Some of their hits were Osvaldo Farres’ “Teresa”; “Prague”, from the soundtrack of “Waltz for a million” motion picture, Armando Larrinaga’s “Sali a buscar mi felicidad” and even some Silvio Rodriguez’s songs, before he was famous. “Los Modernistas” also included in their repertoire a few songs written by Lourdes Torres herself.
In addition to their vast repertoire, the quartet also did choruses for some stars, like Rene Cabell, Fernando Albuerne, Blanca Rosa Gil, Ignacio Piñeiro, Rosita Fornes and Luis Carbonell.
“Los Modernistas” recorded about 400 songs for broadcasting in Cuba, but unfortunately, only one album. The same happens to Lourdes Torres, because so far the outstanding vocalist has not been able to leave her mark in the phonograms world. Nevertheless, she remains active as a soloist and has offered her art for more than a decade at “Dos Gardenias” Complex and other places. Luckily for our music, Lourdes Torres goes on with his career as vocalist and songwriter.
By: Grisel Chirino
Translated by: Pedro A. Fanego