How did Pablo Milanes die? Latin Grammy-winning songwriter, dead at 79, founded Cuba's 'New Trova' movement

Pablo Milanes was born in Bayamo, Cuba, on February 24, 1943, the youngest of five siblings

How did Pablo Milanes die? Latin Grammy-winning songwriter, dead at 79, founded Cuba's 'New Trova' movement
Pablo Milanés, the Latin Grammy-winning songwriter, was persecuted by authorities during Fidel Castro's early years (Euronews/Youtube)
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MADRID, SPAIN: Pablo Milanés, the Latin Grammy-winning songwriter who traversed the world as a cultural ambassador for Fidel Castro's revolution and helped found Cuba's 'New Trova' movement, passed away in Madrid, Spain where he had been receiving treatment for blood cancer for several years; the singer died at the age of 79.

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Manuel Marrero Cruz, the prime minister of Cuba, released a statement on Twitter expressing his sorrow for the demise of the well-known singer-songwriter. Milanes began his career in the 1960s and rose to fame in the Cuban Nueva Trova music scene. He was famous throughout the world for his love songs and simple melodies. Due to health issues, Milanes had to postpone many recent concerts. His death is a tragedy for Cuban culture, and he will be regarded as one of the most recognizable musicians from Cuba.

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Pablo Milanes was born in Bayamo, Cuba, on February 24, 1943. Milanes, the youngest of five siblings, began singing at an early age and rapidly discovered a talent for it. He frequently entered and won local radio and television competitions. His family relocated to Havana, where he studied at the Havana Musical Conservatory for a while in the 1950s, but he attributed his early inspiration to neighborhood musicians rather than academic training, as well as trends from the United States and other nations.

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In 1970, he created the archetypal Latin American love ballad 'Yolanda,' which is still a perennial favorite everywhere from the tourist cafes of Old Havana to the cantinas of Mexico City. In 2003, the Spanish newspaper El Pais asked Milanes how many women he had flirted with, claiming they had 'inspired' the song. "None," he said, laughing. "But many have told me: 'My child is the product of 'Yolanda," as reported by Washington Post.

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Milanes supported the 1959 Cuban Revolution but was persecuted by authorities during Fidel Castro's early years in power when all forms of "alternative" expression were frowned upon. Milanes was allegedly harassed for having his hair in an afro, and he was assigned to a labor detail because of his interest in foreign music. Those experiences, however, did not dampen his revolutionary zeal, and he began to incorporate politics into his songwriting, working with performers such as Silvio Rodriguez and Noel Nicola.

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Milanes received two Latin Grammys in 2006 for his albums "AM/PM, Lineas Paralelas" (AM/PM, Parallel lines), a duet with Puerto Rican salsa singer Andy Montanez, and "Como un Campo de Maiz" (Like a Cornfield), which won best singer-songwriter album.

He also received multiple awards from his own country, Cuba, including the Haydee Santamaria Medal from the Casa de las Americas in 2007 for his contributions to Latin American culture, the Alejo Carpentier Medal in 1982, the National Music Prize in 2005.

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