Musician, Billboard contributor and acclaimed author Ned Sublette (Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo) has been in Cuba this past historic week and was at a concert the night of Nov. 25, when the country learned of Fidel Castro’s death. As the former leader's ashes travel from Havana to his home province of Oriente, Ned -- in this exclusive piece for Billboard -- shares what it’s like to be in Cuba with all music suspended for nine days until Castro's funeral on the Dec. 4, what Castro’s passing means for the country’s artists, and what comes next with President-elect Donald Trump possibly undoing two years of progress between the United States and the once-prohibited island.
In this Billboard exclusive video filmed in March, photographer/videographer Edel Rodríguez goes behind the scenes at some of the city's musical hot spots (some of them on the street), and talks to a few of the many leaders in the big world of Cuban music.
Cuba, long isolated from the United States, has one of the richest music scenes in the world. Now, as the two governments reach historic agreements to normalize relations, American audiences will finally learn what the rest of the globe has known for centuries: This island rocks!