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Cuban Singer, Composer Pio Leyva Dies


Cuban musician Pio Leyva, a member of the famed Buena Vista Social Club, has died of a heart attack at the age of 88.

Reports from Havana quote the family of the legendary singer and composer as saying he died at a hospital late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Leyva was one of the group of retired Cuban music stars who were rediscovered through a recording and documentary made with American guitarist Ry Cooder at a Havana retirement club. The 1997 album and 1999 film, both titled "Buena Vista Social Club," unleashed a worldwide resurgence of interest in Cuban big-band music.

Born in 1917, Leyva won a bongo contest when he was just six, and began his singing career during his teenage years. He went on to sing with other Cuban stars, including Beny More and Bebo Valdes.

He said a 1953 album made with fellow Buena Vista Social Club member Compay Segundo contained the sounds of gunshots, rebels attacking the presidential palace during the first year of the Cuban revolution.

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