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Kelvis Ochoa was meant to be a musician: his father was a percussionist in his grandfather’s band. Hearing them playing gave him the passion for music. Kelvis Ochoa started playing conga tunes in the streets with his friends. His first stage performance occurred when he was 14, when he sang at an inter-school festival a tune by the Cuban sucu-sucu player Mongo Rives. Then he started to take guitar lessons, to write poetry and songs, avoiding any form of classical music training. Very early, some press agents gave him the nickname of "the Idol of Youth from the Isle of Youth".
The genesis of a style
The place where he spent his youth fundamentally influenced his current music. La Isla de la Juventud is the cradle of the musical style known as sucu-sucu, where a soloist improvises, in response to a chorus that repeats a fixed part, accompanied by the instruments. This very traditional Cuban music became the trademark of Kelvis Ochoa: he mixes traditional Cuban rhythms (Sucu-sucu, Cha Cha Cha, Macuta, Songo...) with modern music like funk, rock or international pop.
From anonymity to success
After having moved to Havana in 1992 and formed a rock band called Cuatro Gatos (Four Cats), Kelvis Ochoa’s big break came when he met the Cuban musician: Pável Urkiza. Urkiza, who was part of a well-known Cuban duo "Gema y Pavel" was starting to make his name in the music production field, and decided to produce Kelvis Ochoa on Habana Oculta, a compilation of Cuban artists released in July 1996 on the Madrid-based Nubenegra label. This record led to the formation of the band that would call itself Habana Abierta. They rapidly met with success, with the hit record Havana Abierta on the Spanish label BMG Ariola, sold-out concerts in Spain in the 90s, a triumphant return to Cuba in 2003 for a memorable show at La Tropical and a documentary film directed by Jorge Perugorría and Arturo Soto.
Kelvis Ochoa also started a solo career with his album Kelvis (BMG Ariola, 2001). He surrounded himself with Descemer Bueno, another Cuban musician, who produced him and co-wrote the album Amor y Música, released in 2009 on Cuba’s EGREM label.
Together, the two men won the 2006 Goya and the 2006 “Premio de la Musica of the best movie soundtrack” for Havana Blues.
In 2013/14 Swiss film maker Beat Borter made a documentary: "Yo sé de un lugar - Música y vida de Kelvis Ochoa" (I Know of a Place - Kelvis Ochoa living his music): Musician, poet, cook, dreamer… The on-going voyage of Kelvis Ochoa living his music. Places and personalities that have marked his life, his work, his generation - and Cuban culture.
- 2006 : Premio de la Musica of the best movie soundtrack for Habana Blues (Madrid, Spain)
- 2006 : Goya of the best movie soundtrack for Habana Blues (Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España)
- 1996 : Habana Oculta (compilation, BMG Ariola)
- 1997 : Habana Abierta (with Habana Abierta, BMG Ariola)
- 1999 : 24 Horas (with Habana Abierta, BMG Ariola)
- 1999 : La Isla
- 2001 : Kelvis (BMG Ariola)
- 2005 : Boomerang (con Habana Abierta)
- 2008 : Amor Y Musica (EGREM)
- 2014 : Dolor con amor se cura (BIS)
- Myspace page
- Imdb page
- Para Dar A Luz by Kelvis Ochoa Y 4 Gatos on Yahoo
- "Havana, Havana!", PBS TV documentary series, July 27, 2012. Interview with Kelvis Ochoa.
- http://vimeo.com/100750847 Trailer "Yo sé de un lugar - Música y vida de Kelvis Ochoa". Documentary. Switzerland/Cuba 2014, 97'