Alex Cuba a truly international musician

To most Canadian listeners, Alex Cuba’s Juno Award-winning music sounds Cuban. But to much of his Latin audience, it sounds Canadian.

Alex Cuba was born Alex Puentes

To most Canadian listeners, Alex Cuba’s Juno Award-winning music sounds Cuban. But to much of his Latin audience, it sounds Canadian.

Don’t ask the musician — born in Artemisa, Cuba, and now living with his wife and three kids in Smithers, B.C. — which country’s vibe is best reflected in his funky, pop-rock songs.

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t feel my music is half changed because it’s now being created in Canada,” says Cuba, who recently collaborated with Nelly Furtado on her Spanish language album Mi Plan.

But at the same time, Cuba can’t deny hearing some of his Miami fans describe his cross-cultural sound “like a breath of fresh air” and rave about its inherent tranquility, which isn’t heard in most other Latin music.

“They say, ‘It’s so cool. This guy comes from Canada,’ ” said the singer-songwriter, who performs on Sunday at the Elks Lodge in Red Deer.

Cuba was born Alex Puentes, in a musical family living an hour west of Havana. “I was a natural musician,” he said, noting that his house was right across the street from the School of Culture, where his dad taught him, and other promising child musicians, the guitar.

Cuba started out as a bassist with Cuban bands. He laughingly recalled his father telling him to stick to instruments, since “I don’t have a voice.”

“Maybe the timing was right,” said Cuba, but he accepted his dad’s well-meant criticism as a challenge. “I had the courage to come out as a singer,” he said, shortly after moving to Canada with his Canadian-born wife in 1999.

He and his twin brother Adonis first worked as a duo called the Puentes Brothers.

Cuba later went his own way to create more of a fusion funk-pop sound, which landed him a Juno Award in the world music category for his 2006 album Humo de Tabaco.

His single Lo Mismo Que Yo, featuring Ron Sexsmith, even became a Top 20 hit in the U.K.

Cuba’s follow-up album, Agua Del Pozo, incorporated an electric guitar for the first time and earned him a second Juno Award in 2008.

Cuba’s self-titled third album features yet another innovation — his first English language song.

The songwriter recalled coming up with an interesting guitar riff in the middle of a recording session. “I took a risk,” he said, and stopped recording to focus on co-writing this new song with his producer — even though the lost studio time was costing him money.

He now believes the result — a tune called If You Give Me Love — was completely worth it.

“The reaction has been unbelievable. People are loving it, so I might do more English songs now,” said Cuba, who has drawn his musical inspirations from dreams or even had them drop out of thin air.

One of his biggest career boosts was getting the call from Furtado, who had heard of him through one of her guitarists.

Cuba co-wrote and recorded a duet with Furtado called Mi Plan, which turned out to be the title track for her 2009 studio album of the same name. His Afro-Latin funk-pop contribution, eventually had a big influence on the album; Cuba said he recorded nine songs with Furtado and seven made it on to her CD.

Working with the internationally known Canadian singer was “beautiful, very exciting, very inspiring,” said Cuba, who admires Furtado for many reasons — not the least of which is her enthusiasm.

“It was lovely to see her so excited about all the new music we were making. To see somebody who has sold so much music all over the world still be so excited was really inspiring to me.”

The Central Music Festival Society presents singer-songwriter Alex Cuba at 8 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.

Tickets are $26.25 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre or Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

Just Posted

Celebrating 4-20 in Red Deer

For years, 4-20 was a time to protest for the legalization of… Continue reading

Optimism remains for Red Deer hospital expansion

Red Deer’s incoming UCP MLAs both have been strong supporters of expansion

Sport of axe throwing growing in Red Deer

True North Axe Throwing wants sport to be ‘Canadian version of darts’

RDC cancels championship-winning golf program due to tight finances

Short season, small number of student golfers were also considerations

WATCH: An ‘Eggstemely Fun Easter’ at Bower Place in Red Deer

Bower Place mall made sure Red Deer families were able to have… Continue reading

Dozens hurt in collapse of deck during wedding celebration in Langley, B.C.

LANGLEY, B.C. — Police say dozens of people were injured, some critically,… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25.5 million jackpot… Continue reading

Uber driver charged in two sexual assault investigations: Toronto police

Toronto police say an Uber driver is facing sexual assault charges in… Continue reading

PEI Green party candidate Josh Underhay and son killed in canoeing accident

CHARLOTTETOWN — With only a few days before voters were to go… Continue reading

Egyptians vote on changes that would extend el-Sissi’s rule

CAIRO — Egyptians cast their ballots Saturday on the first of three… Continue reading

Ex-Marine arrested in North Korea embassy attack in Madrid

WASHINGTON — A man suspected of involvement in a mysterious dissident group’s… Continue reading

New bout of heavy fighting in Yemen kills dozens

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni officials say heavy fighting in Yemen’s southern Dhale… Continue reading

Most Read