Orlando Guerra Soa «Cascarita»: a man from Camagüey of universal fame (+Fotos)

By Lázaro David Najarro Pujol / Photos by the author and Internet

September, 2020.- The peculiar way of interpreting the guarachas and sones on the stage of the singer, dancer and improviser from Camagüey Orlando Guerra Soa «Cascarita», was reflected in photographs of the time and confirmed by his youth friend, his countryman Jorge Sicilia .

For the Cuban composer Bebo Valdés (1919-2013), «Cascarita», also known in the musical universe in the largest of the Antilles as «El guarachero de Cuba», was “the best mambos singer that Cuba gave”. He was born in Camagüey on September 14, 1920.

His first successes as a professional interpreter were achieved in his native land, as well as in the city of Santa Clara. Their melodies were heard on the CMHI radio station of the tobacco magnates the Hermanos Trinidad, which would later give rise to the RHC Cadena Azul station in Havana.

Vocalist Roberto Simón, a student of Orlando Guerra’s work, considers that his brother was a popular tumbador of the old Tridimensional orchestra led by maestro Ramonín Vega. «Cascarita», who was a rhythmic singer, made his debut in Camagüey accompanied, among others, by Silvia González, Blanca Margarita Gómez, Servando Vázquez and Candita Batista.

“He used his ability of humor to mix it with Cuban popular music, he also did it very well,” said the also president of the Camagüey’s Music branch of UNEAC.

He is remembered for his spectacular interpretation of guarachas and sones composed by Julio Cueva (1897-1975), among which are Tingo Talango, Scratching always scratching, El cashew, Poor women, Que caló, En tiempo de mangos and Dos cosas pa ‘Take with milk.

Joaquín Eduardo Varona Lezcano, director and music program advisor for Radio Cadena Agramonte, revealed that he was lucky enough to interview Orlando Guerra’s friend from his youth in Camagüey. “Also, they studied at the same school.”

They called Orlando Guerra “Cascarita” because during a tour they asked for bread and cheese.

“But look at this, it only has a piece of cheese.” This is shell! This is skinny! He claimed the clerk.

Her own fellow travelers mocked her for the just observation:

“Orlando, you’re ‘Cascarita’!

From that moment he stayed with that nickname.

According to the testimony offered by Jorge, he was distinguished by his sense of humor. He was very charismatic and very creative on stage.

Jorge Sicilia told me that Benny Moré learned a lot from “Cascarita” in terms of his style, not only musically but also in the extravagant way of dressing and behaving on stage.

Simón Roberto agrees that Cascarita was a reference for Moré in the way of saying and projecting himself. “He was a natural, comic character. Just looking at him with his cam that was wide. While Benny wore the long jacket, Cascarita over the width, with extravagant ties ”.

Varona Lezcano specifies that Cascarita “was a very popular character in Cuba in the years from 1930 to 1940. In Camagüey he began dancing tap. He was an exceptional tap dancer. It was presented many times in the Main Theater of this city. He had many admirers and admirers.

Jorge assured me that on one occasion he appeared on a station in Camagüey and as there was a musician missing, he sang accompanied by the orchestra and was a great success because of his timbre, his voice … It was when he became very popular here.

He dressed in a very conspicuous way: wide pants and jackets and a hat… He was very famous for the guarachas ”. I was able to listen to a live interview conducted by Germán Pinelli with Cascarita, famous in dialogues, the use of double meanings and metaphors.

Precisely in 1948, hired by the CMQ radio station, Orlando Guerra participated daily in an animated night show with Pinelli. The announcer and the singer were a sparkling humorous duo.

Eduardo Varona Lezcano, a member of the Radio, Cinema and Television branch of Camaguey, considers that it is necessary to rescue a figure like Orlando Guerra Soa from oblivion. It is currently unknown in Cuba.

“I personally came to know the imprint of« Cascarita »in Cuban music and culture in general, after the announcer Ángel Eduardo Rosillo Heredia (1929-2015) developed a discussion with a group of filmmakers in the context of a National Festival Radio ”, held in Camagüey.

Varona Lezcano explained that Rosillo presented recordings of songs performed by the musician from Camagüey and talked a lot about his career as a singer, recognized in the musical field as a Camagüey of universal fame.

“In Mexico, he was also very famous. He sang and danced mambo, guaracha, son… He was an excellent improviser ”, added Varona Lezcano.

Orlando Guerra Soa captivated audiences on his 1942 tour to Puerto Rico, where he recorded with the Pepito Torres orchestra for RCA Víctor. He was well known for his sarcastic style, named after words from the street language.

When the musician and composer Julio Cueva, created his own orchestra in 1944, «Cascarita» became a star singer (the popularity of the group increased), without leaving his commitments and recordings with the Palau Brothers until 1949.

Meanwhile, in June 1945, the Camagüey was hired by Liduvino Pereira, director of the Casino de la Playa Orchestra, to make recordings with that group, with tremendous success for the songs Consuélate, by Silvestre Méndez; Vive regalá, by Hermenegildo Cárdenas; The what how, by Jesús Guerra; Take the tail, by Iván Fernández; This is the latest, by Rafael Blanco Suazo; and I pick a bread, I want a hat and Panchita died, by Félix Cárdenas.

After “Cascarita” acting in different second-rate cabarets, provincial stages and with ensembles and other groups that were not really up to his level, he settled in 1960 in Mexico City.

The singer Simón Roberto, who organizes the Peña del Bolero in Camagüey, said that Benny Moré was contextualized by his super relevant performances in the great nightclubs of Havana and other nations. It stimulated the interest of great businessmen in the world, luck that Cascarita did not have, although he participated in tours of Colombia, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Orlando Guerra Soa participated in 1968 in his last major foray into records backed by the orchestra of the Mexican pianist Memo Salamanca. His voice timbre was still intact. He died in the capital of Mexico on March 30, 1973. (Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez)

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