The Queen of Cuba Haila Garcia Mompie visits T&T

The Queen of Cuba Haila Garcia Mompie visits T&T
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Fecha de publicación: 
27 October 2023
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On Tuesday, October 3, prolific Cuban artistes Haila Garcia Mompie and her husband Aned Mota arrived in Trinidad and Tobago. It was their first time visiting the southern twin-island nation.

Haila had been invited to promote the launch of the new CentroGordos vitola Cuban cigars (habanos) in Trinidad and Tobago at UPick, Chaguaramas, on October 5, where she had closed the night with a live performance.

Those in attendance at the event were retailers, businessmen, and cigar hobbyists who were swooned by a range of traditional Cuban songs and those from her own discography. Attendees were also able to enjoy the new vitola (a general name for the specific size and shape of a cigar), which has the dimensions of a 54 ring gauge and 100mm length with renowned packaging, holding 16 habanos.

Born in the south-eastern city of Las Tunas, Haila, 49, made waves in Cuba and the world with hits like Sarandonga featuring Pilar Boyero, Quien Fue and Mala, which won the Cuba Disco Award in the Latin Music Category in 2012.

At a private Westmoorings residence owned by the Cuban Embassy, Haila’s arrival was welcomed by Cuba’s Ambassador to T&T, Tania Diego Olite, and other Cubans living in Trinidad who’d prepared for her a table of food, drinks, and a night of camaraderie. Being among them, one would think that Haila never left Cuba, but, rather, her homeland had been waiting for her right here in T&T! While seated, ready to let Trinbagonians know who she was.

Q: Your recent album, Con un canto a la sonrisa (With a Song to the Smile) released in 2020, teaches children about the importance of identity and taking care of the environment. Why did you choose to make this type of album?

A: “I have 30 years of a career. When reggaeton hit Cuba I wanted to incorporate that genre into songs for children so I could’ve put my own lyrics in those songs so the actual lyrics of reggaeton that were invading the children would not contaminate their minds that much. When I made, Con un canto a la sonrisa, it immediately transformed into an anthem. I wanted young people to know that Cuba is the island of music, that we have 70 different danceable genres. And that’s what I tried to incorporate in my album. I have ten songs with ten music videos, with genres such as mambo, son cubano, timba, and many more,” she said.

Q: The first-ever Caribbean Music Awards was held in August. Those awarded were reggae, soca, and dancehall artists from the Anglophone Caribbean. No Cuban artistes had been awarded at the ceremony. Why do you think this happened?

A: “Even though we’re the largest island in the Caribbean, unfortunately, everything is related to politics. So it’s really hard for Cuban artists to win awards, to even get to the (Billboard charts). I hope next year the entire Caribbean is actually attending the award show.”

Q: How do you think a bridge can be built between T&T and Cuba in terms of music?

A: “I think it is about bringing together both big artistes and small artistes, because it is their job as artists to bring music to young people.”

Q: Why are children an important audience for your music?

A: “Children are a young audience, so the same time your career is growing, they are growing, they go hand in hand. Children don’t lie, if you want to know if your song’s going to be a big hit, just play it to a kid and if a kid is going to sing, dance, or repeat it, then the song is going to be a good banger.”

Q: People who enjoy smoking cigars praise Cuba for having the best tobacco. It is respected around the world for its quality. Why is the Cuban cigar so important to your heritage?

A: “Cuba is recognised around the world for many things such as music, art, rum, and then habanos (cigars), which are made by the hand; it is a big gem in the Cuban culture; it’s identity. I love to smoke cigars,” Haila laughed.

Q: What do you want Trinidad and Tobago to know about the Cuban people? About Cuban culture and music?

A: “I would love for Cuban music to reach Trinidad. I would love the Cuban artistes to specifically get together with more artistes from the Caribbean. Because usually artistes go to the United States or European countries. I would like to have a big festival with Caribbean countries coming together to get our music out there.”

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