Anacaona (band)

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Anacaona is the name of an all-girl orchestra, founded in 1930s Havana by Cuchito Castro and her sisters. Eventually, all 11 sisters joined the band.[1] The band was formed during the Machado era when the political situation led to university closings, forcing Cuchito Castro to abandon her studies and her plan to start a dental practice. Instead, she chose a different career in 1932 by proposing a female septet to challenge the male-dominated son music. At the time, it was believed women were not capable of playing son.

Aires libres[edit]

Cuchito's sisters and friends came together as a group, naming it after the Indian queen Anacaona. Performing on the radio and also nightly in the aires libres, the open-air cafes, they soon found an enthusiastic audience. The members of the original 1932 septet were Isabel Alvarez, Berta Cabrera, Elia O'Reilly and the four Castro sisters–Ada, Bola, Cuchito and Ondina. With concerts in 1938 in New York and Paris, along with films in Mexico, Anacaona rose to international fame, but they faded into obscurity after the Cuban Revolution.[2]


Alicia Castro's Queens of Havana: The Amazing Adventures of the Legendary Anacaona, Cuba's First All-Girl Dance Band (Grove Press, 2007) is a history of the band which concentrates on the band's early period. The British edition is titled Anacaona: The Adventures of Cuba's Most Famous All-Girl Orchestra.


The band was reorganized in 1988. Five Castro sisters chose to leave the band, which is still active under the lead of Georgia and Doris Aguirre, the band's bassists.[3][4]


  • ¡Ay! (1992)
  • Como un Milagro (1995)
  • Lo que tù esperabas (2000)


  • ¡Ay! (Discmedi 1992)
  • Como un Milagro (Bis music 1995)
  • Lo que tù esperabas ... (Lusafrica 2000)
  • No lo Puedo Evitar (Bis music 2008)


  1. ^ BBC interview with Ingrid Kummels, April 30, 2007.
  2. ^ Castro, Alicia, as told to Ingrid Kummels and Manfred Schäfer, translated by Steven T. Murray. Queens of Havana: The Amazing Adventures of the Legendary Anacaona, Cuba's First All-Girl Dance Band. New York: Grove (imprint of Grove/Atlantic), 2007. ISBN 0-8021-1856-9.
  3. ^ Band biography at Lusafrica. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Orquest Anacaona

External links[edit]