Louisville Orchestra conductor Teddy Abrams collaborated with Latin artists through a relationship with the Kentucky Refugee Mission to deliver a beautiful performance celebrating Latin music. The event, which took place at Logan Street Market, was produced by Fred Bogert, a producer and songwriter with credits for miles, who once used the famed RCA Studio B in Nashville as his home base. Now living in Louisville and enjoying the new wave of creativity that can arise over several decades in a career, he volunteers with the Kentucky Refugee Mission (KRM), sharing his musical skills with artists he connects with through the organizational bias.
“Teddy asked KRM if we could somehow put together some Latin assemblage he could play live with. So I had nine of these intense musicians, including Magda Sanchez doing party,” Bogert said. “What I saw happen was Magda, who ended up being the first person, standing with that microphone. She was dressed in white and she just took off. She drew l public attention on Teddy on piano and Tito on trombone for a solo and this and that. She just drove the bus, in terms of leadership and knowing how to handle an audience. She has this intuitive sense that you can’t teach. She’s a real performer.”
It was performance that defined Sanchez’s career, and what a journey it has been.
Until February 2016, Sanchez lived in Holguín, Cuba, a city of about 300,000 people located in the northeast of the island of Cuba, where, according to Sanchez in a lyrical moment, “the sun was silver and the days counted down”.
A singer studying opera at the José Maria Ochoa Conservatory, her life was soon to change.
Discovering Magda Sanchez
In the world of entertainment, discovery comes from the outside. Typically, the artist has already discovered himself in some way. As their creative expression blossoms and their thoughts and activities move into ever more creative spaces, the artist tends to hope to be seen and heard by someone who can catapult them into the spotlight. or, as they say, “put them on”. ”
A&Rs that are part of a pipeline to real professional work, real success, are rare no matter where in the world you are. So when a talent scout looking for acts to perform in China found Sanchez in his native Cuba, the stars aligned. Along with three bandmates in a group called Vista Cuba, she signed a live performance contract and flew to Wuhan. In a way, she was lucky.
Fortunately, China established a consulate in Cuba in 1879. Fortunately, she was born and raised in Cuba. Fortunately, Cuba and China have healthy trade relations and dynamic cultural exchanges. In China’s massive economy, there was a place for Sanchez.
All this luck does not detract from his talent. Her voice conveys emotion with a soft, smoky tone, bringing you closer, like a magnet. Sanchez’s 2014 video for the song “Si yo pudiera” is a first glimpse of his emergence and has a mysterious quality that serves as a portal to another world, a world of Sanchez’s own creation.
Moving to China
The move to Wuhan, a city with the population and scale of New York, was a major transition.
“At first I was scared because I knew this decision would change my life forever… I was only 20 years old. But, before signing my contract, I read it several times and I felt that everything was going to be fine. I knew very little about this country and its culture. I didn’t even know they were eating with chopsticks, so it was a really strong culture shock,” Sanchez said.
The journey could be described as arduous. She and her bandmates traveled from Holguín to Havana, then from Moscow to Shanghai and from Shanghai to Wuhan. Having not slept for days, they were escorted to the Renaissance Hotel, where they were going to live and perform, where they were fed and introduced to their team: a manager, public relations officers, their translator and lots of staff. Soon they settled into a posh lifestyle with all creature comforts.
Sanchez found that performing frequently – five nights a week – for an entire year honed his skills. One of the two singers of the group, Sanchez was accompanied on piano, guitar and bass. The group lived a life of luxury – an image of success that many artists dream of – and then it was time to go home. Some of the band members had children in Cuba and couldn’t stay away forever.
Landing at Louisville
“I returned to Cuba and stayed there for a month when I decided to move to the United States. I came here with my Spanish passport in 2017, and after a year and a day I applied for citizenship through the Cuban Adjustment Law,” Sanchez recalls. “I chose Louisville because I had Cuban friends here and discovered that the Cuban-American community was growing.”
She stayed in Louisville and recorded with Bogert in her home studio. Sanchez graduated from Jefferson Community & Technical College in May with a science degree and is now freer to focus on her music. She has just released a new album, La realidad Diferente, rich in ballads about the ephemeral nature of life, the journey of exploration and magical moments. As you see with songwriters — all artists, really — there’s a lonely feeling — similar to loneliness, but different — that pervades his songs. His lyrical subjects and the mood of his music seem to be the results of his incredible journey.
“I’m really happy to meet people like Magda, and she’s not alone, but she stands out in that she has so many pieces of the very complex puzzle that it takes to be successful in show business. Very young, she was addressing the global market and standing at that level,” Bogert said. “My prediction for Magda is that she will continue to push as an adventurer, like a true artist does, to get closer to find out who she really is and what that means and how she would express it and who she can reach.” •
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