After over 50 years, the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club has become the first Cuban group to perform in the White House.
The band performed in a reception on Thursday, celebrating Hispanic Heritage month across the U.S.
The event also marked the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics.
Still got swing…
“It is wonderful to have you here. I was explaining to them that when the documentary about the Buena Vista Social Club came out, I was told it was around 1998, I bought a CD,” President Barack Obama told the waiting crowd, the Guardian reports.
Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro have met twice since reaching an agreement, after close to half a century of tense relations between the two nations.
Starting out as a members’ only club in the Marianao neighborhood of Havana, the group began creating Afrocuban style music, combining salsa and “son” musical styles.
Decades after the club’s closure, the group recorded an album with U.S. guitarist Roy Cooder during the 1990s.
Despite the death of some key members, Cuban singer Omara Portuondo; guitarist and vocalist Eliades Ochoa; Barbarito Torres, the group’s laud player; trumpeter Manuel “Guajiro” Mirabal; and trombonist Jesus “Aguaje” Ramos began performing internationally as The Buena Vista Social Club.
The group are currently on a worldwide farewell tour: “The Adiós Tour.”