Amber on being famous for a day in Cuba

Story for Amber Epp was being famous for a day in Cuba

During my first few weeks in Cuba, a couple of friends of mine from Winnipeg came to visit me. We were enjoying the warm weather and took a walk down Havana‘s famous walkway, Calle Obispo. All of sudden, my friend yelled out “Coto!” He was greeting one of Cuba‘s greatest tres players (a tres is Cuban guitar). We stopped and talked with this exuberant musician for a few minutes. I thought my friend knew Coto, but turns out, he only knew him by recordings and photos. But Coto talked with us as if we were his old friends. While we were introducing ourselves, and letting him know that we play with the Canadian salsa band Papa Mambo, a stranger walked by and threw in “Yeah, these guys are great – they play with Papa Mambo!” (Thanks, stranger!). Coto invited us to one of the restaurants with a live band on Obispo, “La lluvia de oro“. While the two guitarists talked shop, my other friend encouraged me to sit in with live band. I wasn’t about to barge in on those excellent Cuban musicians, but my friend kept bugging me until I did it! So I sang “The Girl from Ipanema“, and the crowd loved it! Walking down Obispo again later in the day, a man stopped me and said he loved my voice (I’d never met him). Then in the evening, when I stopped in at another restaurant, the guitar player from the band (whom I’d also never met), pointed his finger at me and asked “are you the girl that sings The Girl from Ipanema?“. I sat in with the group, then walked away smiling, wondering how many other people have had the opportunity to be famous for a day in Cuba.

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