Eliades Ochoa was born in Santiago de Cuba on June 22, 1946, in Songo la Maya, Santiago de Cuba. Eliades is considered one of the most renowned Cuban “soneros” of all time, a notable defender of traditional Cuban music, and the best guitarist of his generation. His distinctive cowboy hat and his penchant for wearing black have led some to call him “The Cuban Johnny Cash.”
From a very young age, he began to play the guitar with his parents of peasant origin as teachers and in a self-taught way. He alternated with itinerant troubadours from a very young age. In his walks through “guateques,” bars, and “zonas de tolerancia,” he began to learn the vast traditional repertoire of Cuban music, of which he is a teacher today. His musical style is due to his place of origin, the Cuban countryside, the anecdotes he listened to, the “guateques campesinos,” and a series of other elements that marked him and made him the artist he is today.
Eliades joined the Septeto Típico Oriental in 1969 and officially entered the Casa de la Trova in 1970, where he began to perform regularly. In 1982 he became part of the Cuarteto Patria as director, arranger, voice, and lead guitar. He assimilated the repertoire of Patria with his own style, keeping alive the tradition of Cuban folk music since 1940. He demonstrated his introspective capacity, and on a formal level, the expressive resources he had, served him as a hook to show his love for Cuban music. His style as a guitarist gave a new hallmark to the group.
Also, in the 80s, he participated with Compay Segundo and the Cuarteto Patria in various artistic tours, and with him, he recorded the first version of “Chan Chan.” The way Eliades was inspired to create the lead guitar chords for this iconic song has remained a hallmark that inspires troubadours and listeners. Eliades is one of the stars and founders of Buena Vista Social Club; with this album, he won his first Grammy as Best Tropical Latin Performance in 1997. In 1998, Eliades collaborated with Manu Dibango on the album CubAfrica. Between 1999 and 2000, he was nominated for a Grammy under Best Tropical Latin and nominated for an Oscar with the documentary of Buena Vista Social Club.
Among his most notorious albums with Virgin Records, we can highlight “Sublime Ilusión” with the production of John Wooler and the special participation of Charlie Musselwhite, David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and Ry Cooder himself. This album takes a turn for Eliades’ career by being released worldwide and performing live in the United States and Europe, filling rooms and theaters. “Sublime Ilusión” was nominated for a Grammys as “Best Traditional Tropical and Latin Album.” “Tributo al Cuarteto Patria” is an album that recognizes Pancho Cobas, founder of Cuartero Patia, and the troubadours and composers who have inspired Eliades Ochoa’s career. With this album, Eliades was nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Traditional Tropical and Latin Performance.”
In 2010 he recorded the album “Afrocubism” accompanied by his group Patria and important musicians from Mali. This project gave way to the Buena Vista Social Club. National Geographic recognized this album as the best album of the world that year, and in 2012 it was nominated for an American Grammy. In 2012, he released the album “Un Bolero Para Ti,” where he delights his audience with sublime melodies. This album won four Latin Grammy Awards.
He has collaborated in the record productions of Enrique Bumbury, Luis Eduardo Aute, Manu Dibango, Jarabe de Palo, Blof Umoja, Charlie Musselwhite, Moncho, Armando Manzanero, Descemer Bueno, Pablo Milanés, among others. In 2013 he was selected to participate in a tribute to Bob Dylan.”
In December 2018, Eliades Ochoa from Cuba to the World was released, a documentary about Eliades Ochoa’s artistic career directed and produced by Cynthia Biestek. This documentary has been awarded multiple times and presented at major film festivals worldwide.
Eliades Ochoa continues creating and composing music. In 2020 he delighted us with the musical production “Vamos a Bailar un Son” and in this year 2021, with a new collaboration with C Tangana “Muriendo de Envidia” that appears on the album “El Madrileño.”