Wearing his traditional white Panama hat and smoking a cigar, the popular Cuban musician known as Compay Segundo celebrated his 94th birthday with hundreds of friends, fans, and family members Sunday

Wearing his traditional white Panama hat and smoking a cigar, the popular Cuban musician known as Compay Segundo celebrated his 94th birthday with hundreds of friends, fans, and family members Sunday night. "You have to take good care of yourself," said Segundo, whose real name is Francisco Repilado, during the celebration in the garden of the Hotel Nacional. "I'm happy."

The musician and composer was surrounded by family and friends when he arrived at the hotel, which overlooks Havana's coastal Malecon boulevard and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Earlier in the evening, thousands of people attending a production of Segundo's new play, "Se Seco el Arroyito" (The Stream Has Dried Up), sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

The play is a love story about two young Cuban people whose parents oppose their romance. Segundo doesn't appear in the theatrical production, but his musical compositions are performed by a 30-member orchestra.

Born in the eastern community of Siboney on Nov. 18, 1907, Segundo did not gain international fame until 1997, when the Buena Vista Social Club album brought traditional Cuban sounds to people around the world.

In May, Segundo was hospitalized for extreme fatigue after a series of concerts in Italy, Mexico, and Martinique. At the time, Segundo's Spanish agent, Luis Lazaro, said the artist was unlikely to perform again.


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