Dominican Music and Poetry: From J. Lockward to Abersio Nunez (Trovadores sound)*
The concept of balladeer has evolved with the passage of time. There are many ways of defining a balladeer. For some, he is a poet accompanied by a guitar, a handful of words and much feeling in his singing. For others, he is a slow singer, accompanied by his guitar, a half voice and emotion.
Latin America has a
tradition of balladeers. By now, we can also speak of composers who sing.
The Dominican Republic is well known for its balladeers as are Argentina,
Cuba, Uruguay, Colombia and Spain, we would find by researching the
andalusian cantejondo with its Jewish/Moorish influence. The Dominican
Republic holds its own. When dealing with authentic balladeers top honors
go to Juan Lockwood. But a balladeer is at times a limitless combination
and the counterpoints to Lokwood would include glorious Rafael Colón,
peerless Julito Deschamps and why not also the baritone who sings boleros
and typical music, don Fernando Casado.
We cannot forget La Familia André and César Nanúm (at the group level). Manuel Jiménez gives the music of the New Song its name and its aesthetics. With him the definition of composer/singer (Cantautor) reaches its peak. Ana Belén of singing fame woos him in her recording compositions. But even before, Jiménez feted young Dominican women poets when setting their texts to music in “From Poets to Poet: A tribute to Aida Cartagena Portalatín.”
The 80’s brough voyages and migration on a great scale. The Dominican community in New York was already a reality, and thus the Trova migrated with Enrique Félix, with a great gift for composing more than for singing, but in Félix, transnationality plays a big role, as he stays in as frequently as he departs from New York. But the trova stayed in New York in Félix d”Oleo’s essential interpretations. After him, there has been a string of good singers on the stages of bolero, ballads and even bachata. Another in the group that must be included is Cheo Díaz.
In the last few years a very beautiful voice fills with music the cultural and intellectual spaces of New York’s Latin community. He is a complete artist. He is an accomplished painter. He is also a writer, having participated in numerous group readings. And what has been his main passion throughout his life? To sing. In the Dominican Republic, he sang in numerous hotels, television programs and popular music stages. His enthusiastic public has followed him across the sea.
His name is Abersio Núñez and he lives in New York. This ballad interpreter has become a reference point in Latin American and Dominican media. He tells us about his life and music in an exclusive interview.
Abersio will sing in the Casa de la Cultura Dominicana in New York on February 13th to sing to all in love or not in love. The public will be able to acquire his first CD, “Antojolía,” and will be able to enjoy his voice and style.
Do you think your music is influenced by other singers?
Abersio Nuñez. (AN)
I don’t know whether
singers or singer/composers, but it is - Silvio Rodríguez but especially
Víctor Manuel San José Sánchez are my models. I have lent my voice to more
than one theatrical production and the press compares it to Danny Rivera’s,
a great puertorrican singer I admire very much. Others associate me with
José Luis Perales. I think my style and timbre responds more to a European
than to a Caribbean aesthetic.
MV. What century epoch or moment, influences you, if we were to speak of generations? For example, George Brassens, from mid-century, has been the greatest influence on the great latin American singers. Do you have any affinity for him?
Absolutely not, unless influences multiply, that is operate at an
MV. Do you plan to mass market you music?
AN. Definitely, all art begins in solitude but later it cannot be kept under wraps. In my case (art (in all its manifestations) has pursued me. It is impossible to give it up. I am an artist 24 hours a day. And to gain time, I turn them into forty eight.
Tell me about some places where you have sung in the Dominican Republic and
which has provided the most satisfaction.
Contrary to many beginners, I have had much luck. ONTV I made my debut in
Revista del Cibao, a program produced by Luis Domínguez and José Jácquez (Ají
Tití). I directed and sang in programs for the defunct Channel Seven Cibao.
I was the house singer at the Hotel Santiago Camino Real, El Gran Almirante,
Bávaro Beach, Casa de Arte, Alianza Cibaeña, and in the chorus of the
Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago, under Julio CésarCuriel. I was also
sponsored by father CÉsar Hilario. Memory fails me, you figure out the
I know you paint, you are an integral artist, but what do you consider your
strong suit or inspiration?
Doubtlessly in singing. It is what fulfills me, but I think that in my case
music leads to other artistic expressions.
Would you one day sing songs of a
political nature, an identity nature or genre?
With a musical accompaniment og guitar and piano I would have no doubts.
That is, if the accompanist is as daring as I am, and clear on his identity.
In “Antojolía” there are songs from great composers from the new and old
Trova. will you one day record your own songs?
Definitely, but that is a long term process.
What Dominican singers you recognize as such and how have they impacted your
I like Fernando Casado, Omar Franco, Manuel Jiménez’s words. Only a few
Dominican singers and composers have an impact on me.
Why “Antojolía,” what is the history?
AN . These songs have always been with me. The public requested them and sang along. The title also corresponds to Juan Ramón Jiménez, who said that an “anthology” was to a point a whim. “Antojolía”, my second CD, is composed of nine songs that, together with the rest of my repertoire, have traveled with me for years. The principal condition I required whenever I got a contract was to be allowed to sing songs adapted to my style. I have wanted to make the public think, on top of transmitting feelings and emotions. Thus the selection of my songs corresponds to two basic concepts: musical and literary. These are the two predominant concepts in this new production.
About the artist:
*Saltos de trovadores, titulo original
About Minerva Ventura:
Miriam Ventura (Miralven@aol.com) is a Dominica writer living in the Bronx in NY. She is the author of La Casa Nostra (short stories), poems in Claves for Fantasmas and a wide array of other works. Her work has been published in Spain, Mexico,
Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Israel. She is also Editor of La Mano News, the only New York newspaper writing about the great Dominican community in that city. She is also Executive Director of Bohemia Arte financially sponsored by the Bronx Council on the Arts. And she is also the Editor of Tora Tropical funded by a grant by the Jewish Federation of New York.