Faustino Oramas was a sonero from Holguin, Cuba. "Was", because he died in March 2007, at the age of 96, and after a musical career of 81 years. He was nicknamed "El Guayabero", a reference not to his profession (guayabero = vendor of guava), but to a village halfway between Holguin and Santiago de Cuba, where Faustino as he stated "went to earn a living and almost encountered death". He was attacked by the husband of a brownhaired girl who flirted with him, and had to run for his life. On the way back home, the musicians travelling with him sang a song by Pacho Alonso, "En Guayabero", to tease him.
Known in Cuba as 'el rey del doble sentido', his lyrics are full of Cuban idiosyncrasies, of mishaps and -understandings. "Everything about me is serious", he once claimed, "I don't say what the people think I'm saying. I am very respectful, although I can sing one thing and the public will understand another".
He didn't start composing until he was forty, and has not recorded as many records as the length of his career would suggest. In fact, in Cuba I could hardly find any of his recordings, while everybody knew him and could sing his songs.
Here is one of his lp's, released in 1987. I won't attempt to translate tracks or dissect the meaning of the songs. Even if one doesn't (fully) understand his songs, there is plenty to enjoy. For one, Faustino's dry singing style, combined with the thoroughly Cuban sons.
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