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Cuban Band to Make Historic Performance at White House

  • VOA News

FILE - Remaining members of Cubaís Buena Vista Social Club band, Omara Portuondo, Jesus Aguaje Ramos, Luis Manuel Guajiro Mirabal, Eliades Ochoa, and Barbarito Torres pose for a picture after a press conference at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Jan. 24, 2014.

FILE - Remaining members of Cubaís Buena Vista Social Club band, Omara Portuondo, Jesus Aguaje Ramos, Luis Manuel Guajiro Mirabal, Eliades Ochoa, and Barbarito Torres pose for a picture after a press conference at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Jan. 24, 2014.

Cuba's legendary Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club will perform at the White House Thursday, the first Cuban-based musical act to perform at the U.S. presidential mansion in more than 50 years.

The group's appearance at the White House is part of a reception honoring both Hispanic Heritage Month and the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Named after a long-defunct members-only venue in Havana, the group was formed in the late 1990s when a group of elderly Cuban musicians was brought together for a recording session by American guitarist and producer Ry Cooder that led to a multimillion-selling Grammy Award-winning album, an acclaimed documentary film and sold-out world tours.

Diplomatic thaw

Thursday's performance at the White House not only comes in the middle of the group's farewell tour, it also represents the end of the Cold War-era animosity between Washington and Havana. The two sides have reopened long-shuttered embassies in their respective capitals in the 10 months since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban counterpart Raul Castro announced they were restoring diplomatic relations.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the flag-raising ceremony at the newly re-opened U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, on August 14, 2015.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the flag-raising ceremony at the newly re-opened U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, on August 14, 2015.

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