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Anacaona’s Yolanda Castro and Graciela, RIP

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, By Berta Jottar, greater Cuba, music, obituary Add comments

Within a couple of days, two lead members of the historical all-women Anacaona Orchestra have passed away: first Yolanda Castro, founding member of the band, who passed in Havana on April 4th, and then Graciela Pérez-Gutiérrez (also known as Graciela Grillo), two days later. Graciela had left Cuba in the early 40s and sang with Mario Bauza’s orchestra, becoming a fixture of the New York Latin music scene. Unlike Castro’s, Graciela’s obituary has been published all over the U.S. press, including the New York Times. You can read about Yolanda Castro’s passing on the Cuba-based Cubarte’s page.

Friend and colleague Berta Jottar interviewed Graciela in New York in 2003. along with her students of the course “Sound and Movement in the Afro-Latin Diaspora” (Williams College). I persuaded her to upload the videos and share them with us, and here they are:

(Thanks to Berta Jottar and David Cantrell for their assistance)

5 Responses to “Anacaona’s Yolanda Castro and Graciela, RIP”

  1. PRyer Says:

    Thanks for these, and to Berta for sharing. It must have been so fun to do this interview, Graciela’s charismatic indeed!

  2. Carlos Jiménez Says:

    Thank you Berta for share this interviews with us. I am very happy and I appreciate your intensions.
    Regards, CARLOS

  3. The Latin Jazz Corner » Blog Archive » Latin Jazz This Week Says:

    […] NEWS The past week brought sad news with the passing of Graciela Perez-Grillo, a wonderful singer who brought some amazing performance abilities into the Latin Jazz world. Lots of people are feeling reflective right about now, looking back upon the great musician and person that we knew as Graciela. Here’s a few of the pieces that rose on Graciela over the past few days. Felix Contreras over at NPR’s A Blog Supreme remembered Graciela fondly with some great stories and a historical overview. There’s some nice videos embedded in the article too – you can check out “Before Celia Cruz or J.Lo, There Was Graciela” HERE. Music Director at KUVO and all around Cuban music expert Arturo Gomez provides a personal reflection upon Graciela that intertwines his own memories of the singer’s effect upon his life with history over at Jazztimes. It’s a heartfelt tribute that really captures the depth of Graciela’s power – check out “Adios Graciela: The First Lady Of Afro-Cuban Jazz” HERE. Like many of the great figures in Latin Jazz, Graciela’s life really wasn’t documented to the depth that it should have been; we really don’t know as much as we should about this great musician. Fortunately Berta Jottar took the time to interview Graciela on video, and now, after her passing, the videos have been posted online. This is must-see material – check it out HERE. […]

  4. Kylie Batt Says:

    Я думаю, что Вы допускаете ошибку. Давайте обсудим это. Пишите мне в PM….

    Graciela had left Cuba in the early 40s and sang with […….

  5. Orlando Anaya Says:

    I never knew this existed. Thanks for such an informative post. Truly sad that Graciela is no longer with us. I never knew such an all girl band existed

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