Silvio Rodríguez

Three decades after his last concert in New York, Cuban composer and singer Silvio Rodríguez, one of the icons of the “Nueva Trova” (New Ballad) movement, will play New York’s Carnegie Hall on June 4.

A second concert date has been booked for June 17 in Los Angeles, at the Gibson Amphitheatre in the Universal City Walk. The singer is slated to perform in other US cities, including Chicago and San Francisco, as well as Puerto Rico.

In the footsteps of other Cuban performers such as songwriter Carlos Varela, who recently performed in San Diego, the supergroup Los Van Van, and singer Omara Portuondo, Rodríguez will perform on U.S. stages for the first time since 1980. Newspapers like La Jornada (Mexico) and the Los Angeles Times reported on the Cuban songwriter’s visit, whose full schedule is yet to be confirmed pending visa approval.

Although the U.S. visa had not been approved as of last week, the New York concert is already on the Carnegie Hall calendar, thanks to the increase in cultural diplomacy in the Obama Administration. Rodríguez last visited the US in 1979 and 1980 during the diplomatic thraw during the Carter Administration. However, last year he was denied a U.S. visa to participate in an homage to U.S. folk legend Pete Seeger.

Two months ago, the release of Rodríguez’s latest album in Cuba made headlines worldwide, not only for his allegedly controversial lyrics but for the public exchange of emails with Carlos Alberto Montaner, a Cuban exile and fierce critic of the current government who is, according to the Los Angeles Times, officially considered in Cuba as working for the CIA.

Rodriguez’s music ranges from popular songs to instrumental soundtracks for movies. He began as a magazine comics artist and was one of the founders of the ICAIC Group of Sound Experimentation (GES) along with Pablo Milanés, Leo Brower, Eduardo Ramos, Sergio Vitier, Emiliano Salvador, and Sara González. As a group, these musicians helped renew Cuban and Latin American music in the 1960s and 1970s. As a producer in the Ojalá recording studio, Rodriguez has promoted various musical groups as well as non-commercial music across the island.