Pop Quiz: Omara Portuondo

Aidin Vaziri | We’re pretty sure a bit was lost in the very patchy translation from Cuba, but it was a thrill nonetheless to catch up last week with Omara Portuondo, the lone female star of the Buena Vista Social Club, in anticipation of her first visit to the United States since 2003. The singer, who turns 79 this month, will perform Tuesday at the Palace of Fine Arts as part of the San Francisco Jazz Festival. Her American tour ends three days later with a show at UCLA. She will be playing material from her most recent album, “Gracias,” which was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category of best contemporary tropical album.

Omara Portuondo
Q: On your last tour, you were with all those men in the Buena Vista Social Club. What was that like?
A: I felt like a queen, because everybody treated me that way.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about coming back to San Francisco, apart from performing? Shopping, riding cable cars, going up and down in elevators?
A: Really, my profession is the music. I’m very interested in going to the United States because we’ve always had a lot of cultural exchange. It’s been almost six years since the last time I went to the United States. That’s the reason I have been visiting Europe and other countries and waiting for the next opportunity.
Q: What keeps you going after all this time?
A: That is my profession, and I love my profession. Music is essential to human beings.
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