I put the guitar down and I said , ‘ No , no , no , I was just improvising .’”
Convinced by Ferreras to perform in front of a crowd of 300 on the last night of the workshop , Cuba won over the crowd . “ As soon as I opened my mouth , the whole audience stood on their feet and started clapping . And it was like , the most unbelievable experience for me . In Cuba , I was told that I didn ’ t have a voice of a singer . I was told that even from my father , because he didn ’ t think I had the voice of a singer in Cuba . The type of voice that I have is not considered common . Let ’ s put it this way : to be a singer in Cuba you have to have a big huge voice like a trumpet to command a 16 piece band right ? And I don ’ t have that type of voice .”
Cuba believes that his vocal style and buoyant sense of melody as well as the critical and popular reception to his work is the result of his relocation to and life in Canada . “ I have a soulful voice that Canada loves . And so this is how my music and life in Canada helped me shape my identity as a musician . So , every time people tell me , ‘ I love your Cuban music ’ well , part of me feels inside it ’ s not entirely Cuban and I am so proud of this . My music is Cuban-Canadian . It might be surprising or striking to some people , because Canadian people are used to talking more about our heritage and then act as a country creating something fresh and strong and brand new . But the reason why we win Grammys is in its equation , Canada makes me sound different than the rest of Latin America . When the Grammys listen to my music , they go , ‘ Wow , who ’ s this guy ? Wow , it sounds stands out .’ Because this is different . I have embraced a life in Canada because I am proud of being Canadian . That ’ s all . One big difference between the way musicians make music in Cuba and the way this guy makes music in Canada is simple . I focus on the tune . The musical ecosystem in Cuba is more about the band , the arrangement and the chops of the musician . For this man it ’ s more about the tune . And that ’ s very Canadian , I guess .”
Asked about how those tunes come about , he explains that he has a deep respect for the songwriting process , yet since he built his living room studio , he hasn ’ t consciously sat down with the intention of writing a song .
“ Since I won the Grammy and that ’ s accelerated things in my career , I finally have a full recording studio , where I can have fun , I can do whatever I want . It ’ s not that I say , ‘ Honey , I ’ m going to work , I ’ m going to school , I ’ m going to write a song .’ Now , for me , it ’ s way more spiritual than that . The music has to come for me . The music that I record myself , is music that comes to me when I ’ m least expecting it . And it has to do with how much you know yourself . Because it comes and goes like the ocean in waves . If life is heavy , if you have a million decisions to make , if you ’ re taking care of your family , because there is support , whatever , music is not going to come to me . But if I ’ m honest , I ’ m feeling light chances are , the spiritual comes with this . And that is my process . Melodies come to me . And when a true , unique piece of melody strikes , I know what ’ s knocking on my door . I stop in my tracks and I just go into the universe , and come back when I ’ m satisfied when I ’ m done , but it usually starts with the melody . Melody is for me the true gift of the songwriter . Anyone can spend as long as you need writing lyrics but the melody has to be a gift . In my opinion , the melody is the true gift . Melody contains a huge amount of information that is in my opinion , one of the main reasons why I have been being able
36 CANADIAN MUSICIAN