Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Music Tuesday: Bewitched by Blanca Rosa Gil

"Besos Brujos" from Besos Brujos- Blanca Rosa Gil

A couple of years ago, I was on a search for 60s Cuban music and picked up some songs by Blanca Rosa Gil. What followed was an infatuation that has been unceasing ever since. Cuban bolero singer, Blanca Rosa Gil, had a voice for the ages. She put out a multitude of records during what seems like mostly the 50s, 60s and 70s- on various different labels: Velvet, Benson, Echo, Discuba, Maype, Modiner, maybe even more.

I find it so strange that given Blanca Rosa Gil's seemingly illustrious career, not to mention physical beauty, I haven't been able to find many biographical details about her life as an artist, or personally. She was born August 26, 1937 in Perico, Matanzas, Cuba, but her family moved to Venezuela when she was a teenager where she quickly discovered as a child actor. She was later re-discovered as a vocalist by communications magnate, Gaspar Pumarejo, who returned her to Cuba where she began her career as a singer. In 1962 she was exiled from Cuba and at some point she briefly migrated to Miami. Eventually she married and settled in Puerto Rico where she stayed until the end of her life; I don't know when exactly that was.

Blanca Rosa Gil in Show
I believe a late 50s or early 60s cover of the Cuban entertainment magazine

I've been trying to piece together what I can about Blanca Rosa Gil from her records on eBay and the vague snippets I find online. For example, I learned that Porfi Jimenez became well-known as an arranger thanks to songs he wrote for Blanca Rosa Gil among others. But despite the lack of information, it is clear that she was a massively revered talent with a rich career and multi-national audience.

Here, Blanca Rosa Gil (center) with Maria Teresa Vera
photo taken from La Tiendita

The more I've learned about Blanca Rosa Gil, the more I've found there is no shortage of music to fall in love with. Can you resist the passion of this live 1960s Venezuelan TV version of "Tortura" from Besos Brujos? I dare you to try.

"Tortura" as performed by Blanca Rosa Gil on La Gran Revista del Jueves in the 1960s
Caracas, Venezuela

Or what about the honey-dripped vocals on "Sombras" from the record, Blanca Rosa Gil Canta Sombras (Modiner)?

"Sombras" from Blanca Rosa Gil Canta Sombras (Modiner)

I may not know much about Blanca Rosa Gil, but I do know that her existing records and videos are treasures. The only rivals to her powerful voice and emotional interpretations were her elegance and striking visage. She's an artist that I will be admiring and listening to for the rest of my life, if always wondering what more there is to her story.

Blanca Rosa Gil, year unknown

Do you know anything about Blanca Rosa Gil? What about other Cuban singers of her time?


  1. Great post, I am actually in the same boat with you, I can't find anything about her.

    1. Yeah, it's a mystery! Well, at least her music speaks for itself. Listening to the Sombras LP now!