Las Tunas.- Singing came to Gaspar Esquivel Suárez when he was barely five or six years old because “my father took me to parties and I was in the choir. He was also a guide and played guiro at these peasant festivals. Those were my beginnings and they’re moments I won’t forget even though the years have passed.
The singer-songwriter from Las Tunas – born and raised in the municipality of Amancio – closes his eyes and sees himself next to his father and recalls moments when sleep overwhelmed him; but the desire to learn and the joy he felt in front of the chords born from the tres, as well as guitars, guiros, maracas and keys were stronger.
“There is a lot of singing on the field. You walk the streets singing, and people sing as they go about their business. I was like her and my colleagues at the Centennial Youth Column discovered, so I started attending amateur festivals.
“When I finished my military service, I worked in an office as a stick statistician. That’s where I played the workers’ festivals that took place years ago. But once a visitor came from Havana and they asked me what I was doing there.
“They suggested that I join an institution in the field of culture. I almost forgot until one fine day a government official came to visit me, to whom I am very grateful, they took me out of there and took me to work in the culture department of Amancio.
“I started out as head of the technical-artistic department and later became director of cultural houses. Gradually, I got more into music and took lessons because I needed to have a panoramic view of the arts. Already in 1980 I became a professional artist, as a troubadour and here I am, doing guaracha and son”.
Gaspar is a simple man not so puffed up from so many decades as a singer and having performed on many stages not only in Cuba but also in Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, Brazil and Mexico, the latter twice .
He has done videos and tours; but he is so humble that he is not interested in a large audience. He prefers to be close to people and is happy that they are looking for him to give his music to those living in rural or vulnerable areas. “They pay attention, they enjoy it and they really appreciate it.”
COSTUMBRISMO AND UGLY IN CURRENT ISSUES
In his repertoire Gaspar Esquivel has included themes of the new trova and the traditional trova, in particular by Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés, whom he admires and considers “the most brilliant composers and singers of Cuba and Latin America”.
However, he tries to make his creations known because he dreams and writes, which he then conveys with his cheerful voice. They are simple and easy to understand lyrics, seasoned with an incomparable rhythm that makes people move their feet and their minds.
“I’ve sung about a lot of songs and it makes me feel useful because I’m sticking to society. If I see something that affects you because it’s harmful, I warn you and that’s my grain of sand to think about smoking, consuming alcoholic beverages, living a sedentary lifestyle…
“I also sang at the arms race. Eduardo Dimas, the international commentator, told me that he liked the way I explained the arms race, that he described it well because I call it unpredictable, frenetic, despotic, chaotic, insane, hysterical and other adjectives.
“I recently published other material. It’s called La vaca pinta and is widely recognized for its lyrics and rhythm. I know that field work is very difficult and agree with the development; but we also need the hoe to work the land, because if you don’t eat, you don’t study, you don’t work, you don’t live”.
WORK THAT IS FUN AND LASTS
There are around 50 composed guarachas, although some are heard more than others. But they all respond to the singer-songwriter’s interest in continuing to inspire young people’s taste and interest in our roots. “The Cuban is Sonero and Guarachero, it is part of our identity”.
He always says that, even more so when he refers to the Guarachando Compay Gallo Guaracha Festival, an event that was born in Amancio about 15 years ago and which this year, after an interruption of two calendars caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic was imposed, resumed 19.
“Now we wanted to do something similar in this town and we decided to call it Las Tunas hat his Guaracha son. There was a first time; but practical due to the hardships imposed by the pandemic. And these days it has been postponed due to the events in Matanzas.
“We want to do it soon in some vulnerable communities and it will be a tribute to Rogelio Díaz Castillo and his famous song La caldosa de Kike and Marina. The companies of the territory have given a lot of support and also the leadership of the culture and the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba”.
More than the award for Cuban culture, the work achievement medal, the replica of Máximo Gómez’s machete and many other recognitions, the artist, the simple man, the singer of Las Tunas feels useful and happy. He thanks the followers and is ready to accompany them (us) for a long time.