Por Ana Mengotti |
Miami (EFE).- Trophies, Cuban flags, platinum and gold records, a John Lennon-style jacket in Stg. Pepper, his first guitar and small objects of great sentimental value populate the exhibition “Willy Chirino: 50 Years of Music”, a tribute from the Miami Museum of History to a singer who has not run out of “string”.
“Seeing the story of your life displayed in clothes, in articles, in recognitions and very personal things is very exciting,” the 75-year-old Cuban singer told EFE after touring the exhibition, which will open to the public this Friday.
Born in Consolación (Cuba) on April 5, 1947 and based in Miami since 1961 as part of Operation Pedro Pan, organized to free Cuban children from Marxist indoctrination, Chirino has been celebrating his half-century of career since 2022.
Far from making him think that the time has come to retire, the exhibition, he tells EFE, has reinforced his idea of ”keep going,” which he left reflected in the title of his most recent album.
«I have been receiving the applause or love of the public for 50 years. They show it to me every day through social networks, through personal conversations with people on the street. Who is going to retire like this?”, emphasizes Chirino, who has become much more than a popular singer in Miami. .
His song “Our day (It’s already coming)”, from 1991, which is the promise of a change in Cuba that has not yet arrived, made him an icon of exile and of Cubans on the island who sought to leave.
A photograph from the exhibit shows a raft abandoned somewhere in Florida by the Cubans who used it to reach the United States. On the helmet is written: «Congratulations Wili (sic) Chirino».
Chirino has been a constant critic of the Cuban “regime” and he does not plan to retire from this either.
“It’s been 64 years now and the people can’t take it anymore, the living conditions of Cubans are simply at a level that there is no way to describe,” he says.
“It is a very sad situation, we are going to put it that way and you have to forget that dictatorship. The world has to understand that this has to end now, because there is no reason why a town of 11 million inhabitants lives in these conditions, that they have them like this on purpose in those conditions for the government to survive, “he adds.
Chirino is moved to show a portrait that the Cuban painter Erik Ravelo has just done of him, because the eyebrow of the left eye is the map of Cuba, the island that keeps revealing him.
music and feelings
When asked to say which piece of the exhibition he would choose out of all of them, he says that it is “difficult”, but ends by pointing out that it would be his father’s wallet, which he keeps as it was when he died.
In one of the compartments he found an old newspaper clipping with the news that Willy Chirino saved two people from drowning in 1976 whose car had fallen into a Miami canal by jumping into the water and breaking the window with a stone.
“It is the piece to which my father gave the most value above the hologram recognition and the Latin Grammys, the awards from different organizations and cities, the gold record, the platinum or whatever,” he emphasizes.
Prominent in the exhibition, which features two murals by local artists, are the outfits he and his second wife, singer Lisette, wore on the day they were married in Miami in 1980.
Next to it is a collection of outfits that Chirino used in his performances at different times.
A turquoise jacket with epaulettes and military buttoning similar to that of John Lennon in the famous Sgt Pepper album cover and made for him by a “Haitian tailor” from Miami stands out.
Willy Chirino, founder of “The Miami Sound”
Chirino is considered one of the founders of the so-called “The Miami Sound”, a fusion of Cuban and Brazilian rhythms with rock that changed Latin music and in which his song “Soy” from the album “One Man” is inscribed. gave international fame The “Giant of Pinar del Río” considers himself lucky to have been able to dedicate himself to what he likes. “It’s a blessing,” he says when talking about the concert that he will give on March 11 in Miami and will be the culmination of the commemorations for his 50 years in music.
«It will be a concert, as we Cubans say, with all the irons. Many singer friends are coming, well-known people who are going to join me on stage. It’s going to be something very emotional, very nice,” she says enthusiastically.
The executive director of the Miami History Museum, Natala Crijeiras, told EFE that they did not want to make an “interpretation” of the life and career of Willy Chirino but rather let the objects and his music, which is present through videos that are projected during the exhibition, speak for themselves.