Juan Formell and Cuba’s essence
On the 79th anniversary of the birth of a man marked by his love for the homeland, we remember Juan Formell
Author: Guille Vilar | email@example.com
august 10, 2021 09:08:38
The unforgettable Juan Formell during the Concert Without Borders.
Photo: Juvenal Balán
“The homeland is the homeland; a truism, which is not so. The homeland is something for which a person is capable of dying and also something that lies in a simple taste or a great combat. It can be found in guava paste and in the battle of Las Guásimas. The homeland is something minimum and maximum. In the good sense of the word, it is a mystery, a faith. Something that reaches one by way of a mysterious circumstance.” With this reflection by Cintio Vitier, we approach the 79th anniversary of the birth of a man deeply marked by love for the homeland: Juan Formell.(August 2,1942 – May 1, 2014)
Let us turn our attention, for a moment, to the enormous legacy of his work, to listen to the heartbeat of a soul that found redemption in love for the people to which he belongs.
On all the occasions on which he was granted an award, either the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Cuban Advanced Institute of Art or the Grammy for Musical Excellence, Formell could not conceive of accepting the prize for himself alone, since he fully enjoyed sharing honors with all the musicians who, after 1959, proved that the genre of son never left Cuba, but has evolved with the times.
Although, with Formell, we have finally won this dispute, he never lost touch with the evolution of the issue on different fronts.
Let us remember when the Grammy-winning album “Van Van is here” was shelved by foreign music magnates, as if to ensure its disappearance from the U.S. scene. He knew perfectly well that behind the petty gesture was the hand of the enemy. Formell was not naïve.
Another thing that Cuba will never forget is when, during the Peace Without Borders concert, organized by Juanes, an impassioned Juan Formell made an unforgettable statement: “Enough with the abuse! No matter who may not like it, the concert for peace has taken place.”
The words emerged as an acknowledgement of the event’s success despite threats and manipulation of information coming from outside the island.
Another example illustrates Formell as a man permanently identified with the root essentials defined by Cintio Vitier in the concept of homeland. In the song he co-authored with Israel Rojas of the duo Buena Fe, called “Dicha grande.”
This is how it begins: “I have in front of me my land, my people, my childhood, my truth, my pain, my roots, my reason, my essences: the whole Cuba of my loves.”
The song is a reinterpretation of the joy expressed by Marti at the moment he landed at Playita de Cajobabo, along with Máximo Gómez. Here both creators enjoy a euphoria that Van Van is in charge of communicating with immeasurable joy, as if to make the neighbors across the street, the usual cranks, understand, once and for all, that we will never stop loving Cuba, whatever the price life may demand of us.