Ibrahim Ferrer Biography

Singer (1927–2005)
Ibrahim Ferrer was a singer and Cuban musician who performed as part of the Grammy Award-winning Buena Vista Social Club.


Ibrahim Ferrer was born on February 20, 1927, in Santiago, Cuba. Orphaned at the age of 12, he started his first band at age 13. While Ferrer had some musical success in his native Cuba, he didn't become an international sensation until age 70, when he became part of the Buena Vista Social Club. The recording project—produced by Ry Cooder and filmed by Wim Wenders—garnered a Grammy Award and started a resurgence of interest in Afro-Cuban music. Ferrer died in 2005.


Singer. Born on February 20, 1927, in Santiago, Cuba. Orphaned at the age of 12, he started his first band when he was only 13. Over the years he worked numerous jobs to support himself while he pursued his love of music. He had some success in his native Cuba but did not become an international sensation until he was around 70 years old.

At first he refused to join the Buena Vista Social Club, an ensemble of Cuban musicians recruited by Juan de Marcos González, having retired from singing years earlier. But González persisted and eventually Ferrer agreed. Little did he know that the project would generate such critical acclaim and commercial success. Buena Vista Social Club (1997), produced by Ry Cooder, won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance and generated interest in Cuban music around the world. That same year he sang on the first Afro-Cuban All Stars album, A Toda Cuba De Gusta (1997). The band was led by Juan de Marcos González and played Latin dance music.

Ferrer worked with Cooder again on the 1999 solo project, Buena Vista Social Club Presents: Ibrahim Ferrer. The filmmaker Wim Wenders visited Cuba while they were working on the album and filmed the recording sessions. This footage became part of the 2000 documentary Buena Vista Social Club. Both projects were huge successes?the album sold more than one million copies and the film was nominated for an Academy Award.

With his distinctive voice, Ferrer enjoyed his new career, making several more albums, including Buenos Hermanos (2003). Ibrahim Ferrer died in 2005 in Havana, Cuba.

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