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Composer(s)Joseíto Fernández

"Guantanamera" (pronounced [ɡwantanaˈmeɾa]; Spanish for 'The woman from Guantánamo')[1] is a Cuban patriotic song, which uses a poem by the Cuban poet José Martí for the lyrics. The official writing credits have been given to Joseíto Fernández, who first popularized the song on radio as early as 1929 (although it is unclear when the first release as a record occurred). In 1966, a version by American vocal group the Sandpipers, based on an arrangement by the Weavers from their May 1963 Carnegie Hall Reunion concert, became an international hit. The song has notably been covered or interpreted by Celia Cruz, Compay Segundo and Wyclef Jean.


The music for the song is sometimes also attributed to Joseíto Fernández,[1][2] who claimed to have written it at various dates (consensus puts 1929 as its year of origin), and who used it regularly in one of his radio programs. Some[who?] claim that the song's structure actually came from Herminio "El Diablo" García Wilson, who could be credited as a co-composer. García's heirs took the matter to court decades later, but lost the case; the People's Supreme Court of Cuba credited Fernández as the sole composer of the music in 1993. Regardless of either claim, Fernández can safely be claimed as being the first to promote the song widely through his radio programs.[3]

Pete Seeger version[edit]

Shortly after the Weavers' Carnegie Hall reunion concert recording in May 1963, Pete Seeger included the song on his album We Shall Overcome, which was also performed live at Carnegie Hall. Seeger's recording is described by Stewart Mason at AllMusic as the "definitive version" of the song.[4][5]

The version of the song created by Martí and Orbón was used by Seeger as the basis of his reworked version, which he based on a performance of the song by Héctor Angulo. Seeger combined Martí's verse with the tune,[citation needed] with the intention that it be used by the peace movement at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He urged that people sing the song as a symbol of unity between the American and Cuban peoples, and called for it to be sung in Spanish to "hasten the day [that] the USA ... is some sort of bilingual country."[6]

The Sandpipers version[edit]

Single by the Sandpipers
B-side"What Makes You Dream, Pretty Girl?"
ReleasedJuly 1966[7]
GenrePop, easy listening, Latin, Folk
Songwriter(s)Héctor Angulo, José Martí, Pete Seeger
Producer(s)Tommy LiPuma
The Sandpipers singles chronology
"Everything in the Garden"
"Louie Louie"

The most commercially successful version of "Guantanamera" in the English-speaking world was recorded by the easy listening vocal group the Sandpipers in 1966. Their recording was based on the Weavers' 1963 Carnegie Hall reunion concert rendition and was arranged by Mort Garson and produced by Tommy LiPuma. In addition to the group's vocals, the version includes Robie Lester on background vocals and narration by producer LiPuma.[8] It reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100[9] and No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart.[10]


Chart (1966) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Tracks 10
Ireland (IRMA)[11] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[12] 3
New Zealand (Listener)[13] 7
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[14] 2
UK Singles (OCC)[15] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 9
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[17] 3
West Germany (Official German Charts)[18] 22

Celia Cruz version[edit]

"Guantanamera" is one of the songs most commonly identified with Cuban singer Celia Cruz (1925–2003). It appears on at least 241 different records or compilations of hers,[19] her earliest commercial recording of it being on the Mexican label Tico Records[20] in 1968. She mentions her special memories of singing "Guantanamera" nine times in her posthumous 2004 autobiography.[21]


Chart (2010) Peak
US Billboard World Digital Songs Sales[22] 2

Wyclef Jean version[edit]

Single by Wyclef Jean featuring Lauryn Hill, Celia Cruz, and Jeni Fujita
from the album Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival
ReleasedOctober 8, 1997
GenreHip hop, Latin, Pop
Songwriter(s)Jerry Duplessis, Lauryn Hill, Pete Seeger, Julián Orbón, Joseíto Fernández, José Martí
Producer(s)Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean singles chronology
"Anything Can Happen"
"No, No, No"

Wyclef Jean's version of the song is not a cover of the original, but an incorporation with additional lyrics/music.[23] The album version of the song featured singing by Jeni Fujita alongside Celia Cruz (who re-recorded her vocals for the song), with an additional rap verse by Lauryn Hill.[24]

The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.[25] The song peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Rhythmic Airplay chart, and peaked within the top 40 in several countries, including the United Kingdom. Former United States President Barack Obama listed the song on his 2022 summer playlist.[26]


Chart (1997) Peak
Germany (Official German Charts)[27] 29
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[28] 28
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[29] 32
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[30] 15
Scotland (OCC)[31] 47
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[32] 48
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[33] 19
UK Singles (OCC)[34] 25
UK Hip Hop/R&B (OCC)[35] 10
US Rhythmic (Billboard)[36] 29

Other recordings[edit]

The song has been recorded by many solo artists, including Bárbara y Dick who took the song to no. 1 in Argentina,[37] Demis Roussos, Willy Chirino, Julio Iglesias, Joan Baez, Albita, Jimmy Buffett, Bobby Darin, Raul Malo, Joe Dassin, Muslim Magomayev, José Feliciano, Tony Mottola, Biser Kirov, Puerto Plata, Trini Lopez, La Lupe, Nana Mouskouri, Tito Puente, Raulín Rodríguez, Andy Russell, Gloria Estefan, Phil Manzanera, Robert Wyatt (under the title "Caimanera"), Zucchero Fornaciari, Ansuman Roy, and by such groups as The Mavericks, Inti-Illimani, Buena Vista Social Club, Los Lobos, Pozo-Seco Singers, Todos Tus Muertos, The Spinners and the Gipsy Kings.

In popular culture[edit]

Square of Guantanamera. Guantánamo, Cuba. March 2016.
  • In 2014 the multimedia music project Playing for Change recorded and produced a track joining together over 75 Cuban musicians around the world, from Havana and Santiago to Miami, Barcelona, and Tokyo.[49]


  1. ^ a b Cheal, David (March 13, 2015). "The Life of a Song: 'Guantanamera'". Financial Times. Financial Times Ltd. Retrieved May 22, 2016. His chorus sings the praises of a guajira (peasant woman) from Guantánamo (the Guantanamera of the title)
  2. ^ Vizcaíno, María Argelia, Aspectos de la Guantanamera, La Página de José Martí Archived July 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Part 1, and Manuel, Peter (2006), "The Saga of a Song: Authorship and Ownership in the Case of 'Guantanamera'". Latin American Music Review 27/2, pp. 1–47
  3. ^ "La Guantanamera por María Argelia Vizcaíno #2-2". José Martí. Archived from the original on December 19, 2003. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  4. ^ Stewart Mason, "Pete Seeger at Carnegie Hall Review", AllMusic. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  5. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 34 – Revolt of the Fat Angel: American musicians respond to the British invaders. [Part 2]: UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  6. ^ Josh Kun (November 2005). Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America. University of California Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-520-93864-9. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Rodriguez, Robert (2012). Revolver: How the Beatles Re-Imagined Rock 'n' Roll. Montclair: Backbeat Books. p. 247. ISBN 978-1-61713-009-0.
  8. ^ Michael Bourne (1995). "The Billboard Interview: Tommy LiPuma" (PDF). Billboard magazine. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 618. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  10. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952–2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 92. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
  11. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Guantanamera". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  12. ^ "The Sandpipers – Guantanamera" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  13. ^ "Flavour of New Zealand, 25 November 1966". Archived from the original on April 3, 2023. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  14. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  15. ^ "Sandpipers: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  16. ^ "The Sandpipers Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "The Sandpipers Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Sandpipers – Guantanamera" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON The Sandpipers"
  19. ^ "Searching for "guantanamera celia cruz"on Discogs". DISCOGS. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  20. ^ "Celia Cruz - Guantanamera". Discogs. 1968. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  21. ^ "Celia Cruz, My Life, an autobiography". June 24, 2017. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  22. ^ "Celia Cruz Chart History - Billboard World Digital Songs Sales". Billboard. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  23. ^ "Wyclef Jean :: The Carnival :: Ruffhouse/Columbia Records". www.rapreviews.com. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  24. ^ Bonita (March 30, 2017). "Wyclef Jean & Lauryn Hill's Collabo From The Carnival Was 1 Of Their Last And Best (Audio)". Ambrosia For Heads. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  25. ^ "Wyclef Jean". GRAMMY.com. November 23, 2020. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  26. ^ "Barack Obama Shares 2022 Summer Playlist: Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Rosalía, and More". pitchfork.com. July 26, 2022. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  27. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Guantanamera" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts.
  28. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Wyclef Jean" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  29. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Guantanamera" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  30. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Guantanamera". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  31. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  32. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Guantanamera". Singles Top 100. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  33. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Guantanamera". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  34. ^ "Wyclef Jean: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  35. ^ "Official Hip Hop and R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  36. ^ "Wyclef Jean Chart History (Rhythmic)". Billboard.
  37. ^ Billboard, April 2, 1966 - Billboard HITS OF THE WORLD, ARGENTINA, This Week 1, Last Week 3
  38. ^ Rushdie, Salman (December 26, 2008). "The People's Game". Step Across This Line. Random House. ISBN 9781407021379.
  39. ^ Tom Lamont. "Tom Lamont on the chant-makers of British football". The Guardian. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  40. ^ King, Bill. "Getting to the root of my love of ginger," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Wednesday, August 7, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2019
  41. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "There's only one David Gower - Paul Kelly & the Messengers". YouTube.
  42. ^ "James Freud and the Reserves - One Tony Lockett (CD)". Discogs. 1999. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  43. ^ Movie Port. "Godfather Part 2:"I know it was you Fredo" and Cuban Revolution". YouTube. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  44. ^ "Guantanamero - Richard Stallman". stallman.org.
  45. ^ Movie Port. "Gimme a Break S3E13 Samantha's Protest". YouTube. Retrieved June 22, 2023.
  46. ^ "Saturday Night Live "Feud"". www.nbc.com.
  47. ^ "Alamgir's Albela Rahi is no surprise". The Express Tribune. February 4, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  48. ^ "Money Heist | Guantanamera | Part 3 Episode 3| Netflix". Youtube. July 14, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  49. ^ "Guantanamera | Playing For Change | Song Around The World". Youtube. July 1, 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2024.

External links[edit]