Pavel Urkiza was a voice for a lost generation of Cuban musicians. Now, with Cuban-American relations the friendliest they've been in more than 50 years
Urkiza’s multifaceted style is rooted in the social and political complexity of his life story. He was born to Cuban parents studying in the Soviet Union in 1963 and raised by relatives in Havana. One of Urkiza’s biggest influences was his grandmother Raquel Revuelta, an iconic actress in Cuban theater and film who promoted a more flexible version of Marxism through the arts.
Scenes like this one have been a constant since Urkiza launched his career in small American venues across the Mid-Atlantic earlier this year. And they’re downright astonishing to modern Cuban music fans who know Cuba is not just old cars, fat cigars, and glitzy casinos. Urkiza is a symbol of a Cuba in constant cultural evolution. In his three-decade career, Urkiza has released acclaimed albums on his own and as one half of the popular duo Gema y Pavel. He’s worked with a range of acclaimed musicians that includes Spanish band Ketama, Cuban pop and fusion singers Albita Rodríguez and Descemer Bueno, contemporary Cuban jazz phenomenon Yosvany Terry, and the most celebrated female voice of the Buena Vista Social Club, Omara Portuondo. He’s also shared the stage with Puerto Rican mambo king Tito Puente and legendary Cuban troubadour Pablo Milanés.