11 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Cuban Singers Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

There are many legendary singers, musicians, songwriters, and lyricists who hail from the gorgeous Latin American country of Cuba. Home to the Vinales Valley, Malecon, Cayo Largo del Sur, and crystal blue waters surrounding the country, Cuba is also known for its heartfelt music, upbeat tempos, and musical genius.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the lives and careers of 11 of the greatest and most famous Cuban singers from this Caribbean nation. 

1. Gloria Estefan

Up first we have one of the most popular Cuban singers Gloria Estefan who was born in Havana.

Born in 1957, Estefan has been active since 1975 with producing Latin pop, dance-pop, and tropical music hits. 

Coming out with her first album, Cuts Both Ways, in 1989, she became a successful actress during her time, starring in hits such as Marley & Me and A Change of Heart.

Estefan has won numerous awards, such as the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, MTV Video Music Award, Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, and a Latin Grammar Award, and has sold over 75 million records worldwide.

2. Ibrahim Ferrer

Next up we have another Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer who began his career back in 1939.

Beginning his career with the Conjunto Sorpresa and the Chopin y Su Orquesta Oriental, Ferrer later moved on to perform in Santiago, Cuba.

Performing for over 65 years until his death in 2005, Ferrer was known for his son, guaracha, and bolero music.

Despite a lull in his career during the 1990s, Ferrer revived his career in the late 1990s during the Nick Gold’s World Circuit Sessions, recording A Toda Cuba le Gusta, and recording a Grammy-award-winning album Buena Vista Social Club.

3. Omara Portuondo

Omara Portuondo is a Cuban singer and dancer specializing in Bolero, Cancion, vocal jazz, guaracha, and son music.

Portuondo was born in 1930 and is an amazing 91 years old — and still performing!

She has won numerous awards during her highly-lauded career, such as the Latin Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Tropical Album and three Grammy award nominations.

With her exciting remixes and renditions of boleros, she is one of the most prominent Cuban solo artists.

4. Rita Marley

Alpharetta Constantia Marley, commonly known as Rita Marley, is a Cuban-Jamaican singer hailing from Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

Born In 1946, Marley is still active in her singing career, focusing on Reggae music, creating a museum for Bob Marley, and writing a memoir of her life in the music industry.

Marley is best known for her collaboration with Bob Marley and the Wailers, being one of the lead backup singers who helped the reggae icon rise to fame. 

5. Silvio Rodríguez

Silvio Rodríguez Dominguez is a Cuban musician and singer-songwriter born in San Antonio de Los Baños, a town in the Artemisa Province of Cuba, in 1946.

Rodríguez is known for his prowess in folk music and his expertise with memorable and touching lyrics. 

Rodríguez’s legacy is his symbolic and magical lyrics that have become a staple in Latin American culture.

Churning out classics like Unicornio and La maza, he has also written and produced political anthems to educate the Cuban citizens with his works like Fusil contra fusil and A Donde van

6. Rey Ruiz

Another singer who began his career as a child, Ruiz was a popular child star, singing children’s songs on Cuban television.

He went on to study at the Conservatorio de Musica, which launched his career, landing him the headline at Habana Libre.

However, he garnered even more fame as a Salsa singer once he hit the scene in the United States. He’s gone on to star in commercials for some large household names, including Pepsi and Sony.

His musical career is far-reaching, with successes in Cuba, the United States, Brazil, and Colombia.

7. Benny Moré

Bartolomé Maximiliano More Gutierrez, known as Benny More, was a Cuban singer born in Santa Isabel de las Lajas, a municipality in the Cienfuegos Province.

Known for his expertise in singing Son montuno, mambo, guaracha, bolero, and afro music, More was an established musician and bandleader who could sing and play the guitar. 

After starting his career with Trio Matamoros in the 1940s, he made his cinematic debut just six years later.

Returning to Cuba at the beginning of 1950, he continued his career with other famous musicians like Bebo Valdes and Ernesto Duarte.

His biggest accomplishment was forming and being in the Banda Gigante, one of the biggest big bands in the decade.

Unfortunately, More died at the young age of 43 due to liver cirrhosis from lifelong alcoholism.

8. Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz, born Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, was a singer and actress who was one of the most famous stars to come from Cuba.

Born in Havana, the largest city in Cuba and the heart of the La Habana province, Cruz was active between 1948 and 2003. 

Cruz’s career began in her native hometown due to her mastery of various musical styles and instruments, singing hits in bolero, rumba, afro, son, and guaracha styles for years to come.

After 10 years of performing, she was forced to leave Cuba due to the nationalization of the industry, heading to Mexico and the United States to continue singing in her unique style. 

The following decade, Cruz turned her focus towards salsa music and continued to churn out hits even as she aged, such as La Vida es un Carnaval.

Overall, Cruz composed 37 studio albums, won two Grammar words, earned three Latin Grammar Awards, and appeared in numerous telenovelas. 

9. Jon Secada

Next, we have Jon Secada, is a Cuban American singer, songwriter, and voice actor. His career has lasted over 20 years after starting in 1991, with Secada Producing and writing songs for other hit stars such as Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin. 

Cicada was born in Havana, Cuba in 1961 and has spread his wings in the Pop, Latin, Latin pop, R&B, funk, and pop-rock categories with strong vocals and meaningful lyrics.

Throughout his career, he won an ASAP Latin Music award, BMI Latin Award, BMI Pop Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and Grammarly Award for Best Latin Pop Album in 1993.

10. La Lupe

Lupe Victoria Yoli Raymond, known as La Lupe, was a Cuban boleros, guarachas, and Latin soul singer.

Known for her on-stage performances and electric energy, La Lupe pushed the boundaries with her performances and musical career.

Born in Santiago de Cuba in 1936, Lupe had an illustrious career that spanned over 30 years. 

During the latter part of her career, Lupe was exiled to Mexico. Fortunately, she met with Celiz Cruz, who was recommended to Mongo Santamaria in New York, United States.

After moving to the Big Apple, Lupe found success performing at cabaret clubs. She churned out over 10 albums in five years and covered a wide range of musical styles, such as son montuno, bolero, boogaloo, merengue, plena, and bomba. 

11. Daymé Arocena

Daymé Arocena is an Afro-Cuban singer from Havana who is known for her energetic performances, soulful voice reminiscent of the famous Aretha Franklin, and prowess in directing, band leading, arranging, and composing pieces. 

She began her career after winning the 2015 Juno Award for the best jazz album — and her career will only continue to move upwards as the years go by.

12. Yilian Cañizares

Yilian Cañizares is a Cuban-Swiss singer and composer leading the charge as one of the newest Cuban musicians and vocalists.

Singing jazz, world music, and Music of Cuba genres, Canizares hails from Havana and has been active since 2009.

Her career began in Venezuela where she learned to play the violin and soon continued in Switzerland at the Freiburg conservatory.

Her formal training in instruments and singing has made her one of the most inspiring artists of the new generation. 

13. Lucrecia

And lastly, but not least, we have Lucrecia who was born in Havana but raised in Guanabacoa.

She began her musical career by studying piano at the Institute of Superior Arts of Cuba when she was only seven years old. Isolina Carrillo, a famous composer, gave her singing lessons.

She went on to perform with La Orquesta Anacaona, where she was able to tour the world while performing. 

She made a name for herself in Spain, singing as a lead vocalist, playing the keyboard, and even starring in Spanish film and television.

She settled down in Barcelona where she lives still with her mother, making music and continuing to star in Spanish television.

Summing Up Or List Of Great Singers From Cuba

There are numerous musical artists, singers, signwriters, and musicians who hail from the beautiful island country of Cuba.

With engaging styles that blend Aro-Caribbean betas, all of these artists have left a legacy that will inspire singers for years to come.

Cuban singers are known for their alluring renditions of musical styles, heartfelt lyrics, and upbeat dance tunes, with old and new singers paving the way in the music industry.

Check out some of the top artists and singers on this list to listen to some of the most popular songs in Cuba’s history!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.