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Buena Vista Social Club singer to perform in U.S.

October 06, 2009|Associated Press

Omara Portuondo, the sultry-voiced diva of the Buena Vista Social Club, has been granted permission to visit the U.S. for the first time since 2003 and hopes a dose of her sensuous sound can inspire both countries to improve frozen relations.

The U.S. Treasury Department has granted Portuondo, who turns 79 this month, permission to perform at the San Francisco Jazz Festival on Oct. 20 and to give a concert three days later at UCLA.

"Cuban music is the best medicine," Portuondo said recently. "It's good to be able to share culture, which is the soul of a people."

Her career spans six decades. But Portuondo had fallen into obscurity until American guitarist and producer Ry Cooder brought her and other aging Cubans musicians together in the 1990s and "Buena Vista Social Club" made them international stars.

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