The Cuban salsa singer talked with about injecting newfound vim and vigor into his latest album

Por Andrés Martínez
Updated Junio 11, 2008
Credit: lmc media group llc

With a message of hope and assurance that dreams can become reality, Cuban salsa singer Willy Chirino debuts his latest musical endeavor Pa'lante, an album in which variety reigns and sentiment abounds. With a positive attitude and a poetic lyricism interwoven in his words, the master of Miami salsa talked with us about his 29th album which features artists such as Oscar de León, Daniela Mercuri and Cuco Peña, among.

Although the “Soy Guajiro” singer feels satisfied with his career, he said there are still many things he'd like to accomplish with his music–including a dream to play music in Antarctica “and make the penguins dance.”

It's been a year since you released your last album, so what do you have in store for us now?
Well, now I've got “Pa' lante,” which is the name of the first single on my eponymous album that came out May 20. The disc includes a song by Chilean Alberto Plaza, and elicits a message of faith and hope that offers the kind of inspirational push that everyone in the world needs right now–because it's important to have the desire to want to move forward during these hard times. It's more than a song–it's a life line for people who are continuously struggling.

Let's talk about what makes this album different from your others
Well, the album has twelve songs. A couple of them are duets with Oscar de León, and I made another track called “Hay Amores” with Daniela Mercuri from Brazil. We recorded five songs in Puerto Rico with my good friend Cuco Peña, which was a dream come true because we've always wanted to work together.

We know the songs vary musically and thematically. Can you talk a bit about that?
Yes, the album pays homage to all kinds of salsa music that spans generations. For instance, “Los Campeones de la Salsa,” borrows phrases from music icons such as Oscar D'León, Celia Cruz, Isaac Delgado, Gilberto Santa Rosa y Víctor Manuel. Love is also a recurring theme, especially in “Me Negarás Tres Veces,” and a song dedicated to the political problems facing my native Cuba called “13 de Julio- El Mar Nos Une.” It's a painful hymn of loss, but impregnated with faith and hope for what's yet to come–a liberated Cuban that's free of tyranny.

Is the album everything you imagined it would be?
I'm really pleased with it, because I was able to implement the artistic integrity that it deserved. An artist tries to immortalize himself through his work, and it's important for me to be content with the result so that maybe 50 years from now I can only hope and imagine that my music will inspire some kid who's carrying his own dreams and visions.

¿What's the force that drives your dynamic music?
I think it's the fact that I've never stopped dreaming, and when I say dreaming, I mean always looking for new horizons. When an artist doesn't dream, he might as well just say bye and retire, even thought it's nearly impossible to retire, because with the support and love from fans, you feel the need to sing, and those dreams never die. That's why I can say I have plenty of musical ammo left. Triumph and success come when we ask life to give us what's already at our fingertips, and that's what I've always worked hard for.