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Cuban 'Hardcore' Salsa Group Makes a SplashAired August 25, 2000 - 2:55 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, salsa comes in a variety of flavors -- hot, medium, mild -- and now as CNN's Lucia Newman found, something really spicy, something called hardcore.
LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You'd never guess that this musician studied classical violin and dreamed of playing Beethoven as a soloist in a symphony orchestra. But then David Calzado, the founder and director of Charanga Habanera, makes no apologies for having come up with something different, a sound that is to salsa what heavy metal is to rock.
DAVID CALZADO, DIRECTOR, "CHARANGA HABANERA" (through translator): We have the influence of rock, rap, of jazz --though not as much -- of traditional Cuban music. It's a hybrid that makes for very modern, very aggressive music that drives Cubans wild.
NEWMAN: David Calzado and his Charanga Habanera have been voted Cuba's most popular salsa group, a group that provides not only sound, but also a bold stage performance -- so bold sometimes that three years ago, the Cuban government barred the band from performing for six months, saying they'd gone "too far." The group, which rehearses in a working class neighborhood where the locals are always invited, is used to controversy. One of its most popular songs calls for using a condom, a sort of salsa campaign to promote safe sex.
CALDAZO (through translator): There's been a lot of controversy about Charanga Habanera's songs, but that's the music that I feel, that I create, and that I'll always do, in Cuba or wherever I am.
NEWMAN: David Calzado began looking beyond Cuba in the late '80s. He played in Monte Carlo, where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Tito Puente. Today, the group, with new, younger musicians, performs in Europe, Japan, Latin America and the United States. While they've all studied classical music, they say their unique salsa sound is in their blood.
Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.
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