Juan Carlos Formell
Musicians who think they have it hard should listen to Juan Carlos Formell's story. Born into an old Cuban family whose musical prowess extends back at least four generations, Formell taught himself to play guitar when he was only seven years old against his family's wishes. By age 12 he was writing songs, and not long after he became a bass player of some renown. However the Castro government took exception to some of his habits -- namely, practicing yoga (dangerous!) and writing songs which didn't fit into any government approved category. They blocked his development as an artist and refused to let him tour outside the country, but he got a break when Cachaito Lopez needed him to fill in on a tour. Formell left the band in Mexico, swam across the Rio Grande to the U.S. and made his way to New York City and ultimately New Orleans. The gamble and the hardships paid off. In 2000 Songs From A Little Blue House was nominated for a Grammy and Formell's delicate songwriting and intelligent updating of Cuban traditions has gained him lots of fans.