César Portillo de la Luz
Composer, guitar player and singer.
César Portillo de la Luz was born on October 31, 1922 in Los Quemados neighborhood, Marianao municipality, City of Havana.
During an interview for the Cuban magazine "Tropicana Internacional", Master Portillo, referring to his first musical experience, stated: "When I was very young I used to listen to my parents singing as a duet. They were very humble people and sang very well in tune the classics of the Cuban traditional trova. I believe that, from the genetic point of view, I inherited that same musicality. When I was three years old I already sang in tune and with a tempo that caused everyone"s admiration..."
His first experiences as music amateur date back to the end of the 1930`s when a group of youngsters with musical common interests met at the Villalón Park located in the Vedado area in Havana.
In the mid-1940`s he began working with more stability and joined a trio as si nger. Just during that period, Portillo de la Luz, together with artists of the stature of José Antonio Méndez, Ñico Rojas, Aida Diestro and Rosendo Ruiz, Jr., among others, initiated a new genre, within the context of the Cuban trova song, by introducing new expressive elements and establishing a dialogue with the audience from the bolero structure. This was the birth of the "feeling", a genre in which the melody abandons the tonal stillness and harmonically expands the bond of both tonal and extra-tonal tunes to include the influence of the American music. César himself has expressed: "The music known as "feeling" represented the most advanced music of the time. We were a generation marked by impressionism, jazz and romanticism. All these sources nurtured our artistic and musical thinking. Then, we created a new stylistic trend in the Cuban song".
César Portillo de la Luz is a true idol in countries such as Spain and Mexico. He has made successful performances accompanied by his guitar in Europe and America.
Portillo`s work is impressive and, in order to support such statement, suffice it to remember some of his songs, namely, "Contigo en la distancia" and "Tú mi delirio" with more than one hundred versions made throughout the world. Other songs like, for example, "Noche Cubana", "Son al son", "Canción para un festival" and "Interludio" constitute a real treasure of Cuban music and have been widely disseminated at international level.
His songs had been sung by Nat King Cole, Lucho Gatica, Pedro Vargas, Caetano Veloso, Luis Miguel, Plácido Domingo, Cristina Aguilera, María Bethania and the London Symphonic Orchestra, just to mention a few.