Paulina Álvarez, Empress of the danzonete

Paulina Álvarez, Empress of the danzonete


CubaPLUS Magazine

On July 22, 1965, Cuban singer Paulina Álvarez died in Havana, owner of a defining and privileged voice and style that led her to be baptized with the nickname Emperatriz del danzonete, a Creole genre derived from danzón, the national dance of Cuba.

She was born in 1912 in the central city of Cienfuegos, close to the land where the Barbarian of rhythm, Benny Moré, saw the light. Everyone who heard her sing recognized that she was not only masterful in the danzonete, because her voice with its powerful timbre could assume any genre of Cuban music.

From early on she showed signs of her prodigious vocal conditions. She lived in the capital since she was a teenager, together with her family. The first song she performed on the radio was a very original version of El manisero, by Moisés Simons, with which she became known.

But her success came when she interpreted Black Tears, by the great Miguel Matamoros, and the song Mujer Divina, by the brilliant Mexican Agustín Lara, in the Elegant orchestra where she was a soloist. When the Matanzas composer José Manuel Aniceto Díaz composed his first danzonete, under the title of Breaking the Routine (Rompiendo la rutina), he chose Paulina to promote it in Havana. Her reception was so sensational that from that stage on, the genre and the theme served as an identity for the promising artist.

At a time when singing in orchestras was the domain of men, the merit of Paulina's punch was more than remarkable. As she progressed, she was soon able to create her own orchestra, with quality musicians who respected her, not only for her voice, but also for her knowledge of theory and music theory, piano, guitar and singing, in which she was versed

This artist was able to live the glory of enjoying her enormous popularity and she recorded albums with the main world labels. She saturated the most select spaces summoning an audience that loved her and danced joyfully with her art.

Her connoisseurs praised her refined tuning, intense and underpinned by a beautiful timbre and an enviable extension. “Mimosa”, “Crystal bells”, “El verdulero”, “Obsesión”, “Press más”, “Vagando”, “Échale solfeando”, “No vale la pena” and “Ritmo pa'mí”, were hits in his voice. "There in Matanzas a new ballroom dance has been created”, Paulina reminds us from eternity.