The Cuban Ministry of Culture and the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), announced that Yolanda Castro, founder of Orquesta Anacaona, died April 5th in Havana (Cuba).
Yolanda, together with her sisters, founded the renowned Orquesta Anacaona in 1932. Yolanda, born in 1929, played saxophone, clarinet, oboe, bongo, conga drums, and guitar.
Orquesta Anacaona became the most important women’s orchestra in Cuba. Anacaona started as sextet. It later became a jazz band and in later stages it adopted other formats. The band is still active currently, led by a new generation of women.
The members of this essential group played music based on Cuban musical roots such as rumba, mambo and cha cha chá, combined with international forms, crossing boundaries and musical genres. The memoir Queens of Havana: The Amazing Adventures of Anacaona, Cuba’s Legendary All-Girl Dance Band by saxophonist Alicia Castro, looks back on the Havana of yesterday and the dazzling career of the dance band, from concerts in Paris and New York, to appearances with Dizzy Gillespie, Celia Cruz, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway.