Time for my second post on music in my first language. I intend to cover a huge range of performers when it comes to music in Spanish, something old, something new, something from every Spanish speaking country and today I would like to write about Bola de Nieve, probably my favorite pianist and a unique artist.
Ay amor! Bola de nieve
Ignacio Jacinto Villa Fernández, was born on September 11th -1911 in Guanabacoa, Cuba. His mother Ines was a housewife and his father, Domingo Villa was a cook in a tabern. He had 12 siblings but even though they were not rich, they always participated in the community activities and he loved music since he was very young. He studied at the Mateu conservatorium from the time he was 8 years old.
He was a singer, composer and pianist. He is recognized as one of Cuba’s most important musical genius. Some people say it was the town Doctor who called him that and that he did not appreciate it, the most accepted theory says his nickname was given to him by the also famous singer, pianist and performer Rita Montaner, born in his hometown, when they performed together “El Manisero” and “Siboney” and she made the posters say “Rita Montaner and Bola de Nieve”. She took him as his pianist to Mexico where he remained and developed his career.
Throughout his career he was famous among the elite more than the popular crown. He sang in French, English, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian and of course in Spanish. He toured widely in Europe and America, and he used to hang out with intellectuals like Andres Segovia (one of the greatest classical guitarists of all time), Pablo Neruda (Poet and Nobel Prize Winner), and he was very close to Fidel Castro and a great supporter of his revolution and communism.
Si me pudieras querer – Bola de Nieve
This song, was written by him…tasteful, playful and with a unique cadence (like him). Bola de Nieve was black, latino and gay. He was self confident and outgoing and was accepted for what he was, a great talent. It was probably because he was an outspoken supporter of Castro that he was not persecuted as a homosexual in Cuba. He had a unique and tasteful way of interpreting songs and he used to tell stories before each song, he prepared as an actor to do it, he did not believe in improvisation, he worked hard at his craft and his ability to communicate songs and their stories.
I know this segment is about music in Spanish but since it was Edith Piaf herself who said that no one could sing this song like him (not even her) I feel obliged and morally commanded to share it
La Vie en Rose – Bola de Nieve
No Puedo Ser Feliz – Bola de Nieve
This wonderful song was written by Adolfo Guzman. Cuban composer and songwriter born on May, 13th. 1920 – Died July 30th. 1976. In my opinion, Bola de Nieve makes the song devastatingly sad but elegant…like his voice.
Ignacio Villa died in Mexico, on the 2nd of October 1971. He had suffered from diabetes and asthma but died from heart problems.
He was sensitive, talented, authentic and highly cultured. There is an intimacy to the way he plays, his inflections and how he delivers a song, it is nostalgic and romantic and I think he is one of the greatest performers of music in my first language. You can find a playlist with his greatest records bellow.