HispanicVista Columnists

Dominican Music and Poetry: From J. Lockward to Abersio Nunez (Trovadores sound)*

By Miriam Ventura
Special to HispanicVista.com

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.
The 1980s feeds retroactively on bolerismo, urban song and particularly from a type of overly sentimental bolero, without omitting the interesting musical propositions and compositions of Enrique Félix and Ramón Leonardo (ex-components of seven Days With the People), and what henceforth was called the Nueva Trova.  One must include Luis Díaz, Heriberto, Roldán Mármol and, as a group, Convite.


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.



Miriam Ventura (MV)

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.
Thus says my older brother, who is also my mentor.


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?


AN.  Absolutely not, unless influences multiply, that is operate at an unconscious level.
That is to say, the singers or singer/writers who influence me have influences of their own and that interaction  leads me to the others.


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.


MV. Tell me about some places where you have sung in the Dominican Republic and which has provided the most satisfaction.


AN.  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 rest.


MV.  I know you paint, you are an integral artist, but what do you consider your strong suit or inspiration?


AN. Doubtlessly in singing.  It is what fulfills me, but I think that in my case music leads to other artistic expressions.


AV.  Would you one day sing songs of a political nature, an identity nature or genre?


AN. 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.


MV.  In “Antojolía” there are songs from great composers from the new and old Trova.  will you one day record your own songs?


AN. Definitely, but that is a long term process.


MV.  What Dominican singers you recognize as such and how have they impacted your career?


AN.   I like Fernando Casado, Omar Franco, Manuel Jiménez’s words.  Only a few Dominican singers and composers have an impact  on me.


MV. 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:
Abersio Núñez was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.  he Lodz an MA in Spanish from CCNY, and has distinguished himself as a singer, painter, photographer, journalist, movies and writing.  He has been anthologized in El movimiento interiorista: Antología del Ateneo insular and Poesía de Venezuela.  he has two unpublished poetry manuscripts:  “Pasajero del tiempo” and “Poemas de Nepal.”  he has also published in Hybrido (CUNY) and Brújula/Compass, and shown his paintings “Tempestad serena” at CCNY.  His photographs of American and Czech glass appear  on Internet, Glass Collector’s Digest and The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles.  he has also published poetry on Internet journals such a Plavreiros, OTHERAMERICA. COM and Revista Virtual de Cultura Iberoamericana.  He teacher at Queensborough Community College and City College.  He has marketed two musical projects: “Conclusiones” and “Antojolía.”  He is a member of the Board at Latino Artists Round Table.

*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.