Thursday, March 13, 2008

Celebrando: Juan de Dios Ramos

Juan de Dios (third from right) preparing to dance columbia at
El Palenque del Conjunto Folklórico Nacional c. 1980
(Photo Courtesy of Gregório Hernández Rios)

Juan de Dios Ramos Morejón "El Colo" was born March 08, 1935 in barrio Lawton, Havana. In 1961 he formed part of the rumba group Los Tercios Modernos, and also Sicamarié, directed by Luis Chacón, and in Mambo Chambo, directed by Lacho Rivero.

In 1975 he formed his own folkloric ensemble, Raices Profundas, which was featured in the 1993 documentary "Rumba, Rum and the Problem of Staying Alive."

Here is some great footage shot in 2001 by Lisa Knauer at the peña at La Cueva del Humo.

Juan is accompanied by Guillermo "El Negro" Triana, and Luis Chacón also makes an appearance at the beginning. They do a medley of "Solo mi Arte" and "La Viola." Enjoy.

Que ya la rumba se formó (¡Guaguancó!)
Ya la rumba se formó
en este lugar sagrado
Es por eso que yo canto
Este lindo guaguancó
La rumba más celestial (¡Guaguancó!)
La rumba más celestial
de los dominios de Apolo
es un elemento sólo
De un concierto universal
Ella no tiene rival (¡Guaguancó!)
Ella no tiene rival
por lo bello y lo fecundo
Si en este grandioso mundo
no se ha visto cosa igual

Solo mi arte sublime yo adoraba
Solo mi arte sublime yo adoraba
Mi afán era tan solo
Sentir las notas
Que armoniosas me inspiraban
Recordando que podía pensar en ti

Yo quiero saber cuál es
El instrumento más sonoro de la vida

¿Será la viola de Homero?
No, señor
¿Será la viola de Otelo?
No, señor
¿O será la viola de Colón?
No, no no no, no no no no

No, hombre, no
No te metas con poema
Porque mi poema es
El gran ilustre del canto
Métese con Francisco
Con Juan Pablo o con Callava
Porque estos son
Los que te pueden contestar

No te metas con poema
Porque mi poema es
El gran ilustre del canto

Coro: Carabalí, Congo Rea’, e


Dianna said...

Barry,thanks so much for the feature on Juan de Dios! I'm a little late in posting, but I wanted to acknowledge that yes, Juan DD is one of the great rumberos. I was lucky enough to be able to study with him (and Miguelito Bernal from Raices Profundas) for nine months while he was here in Portland. I'm telling you that it was an incredible time for those of us who studied with him! Doing gigs with him here and just learning rumbas on the spot was such a great experience! He also taught dance and definitely influenced so many of us.

One great memory of Juan was at a party where he sang a bolero, and it was so beautiful, everyone was on the verge of tears. His cantos are always so heartfelt.

I'm sure that Juan would love your dedication; he is very appreciative of his exchanges with North Americans and the eagerness of us all to continue the traditions, no matter where we live. Your work is much appreciated!

Dianna, aka Omolu22

Barry said...

Thanks for your comment, Dianna, that was a great story too.

songo said...

Hello. Does anybody know if Juan de dios is still in Havana or if he has left cuba by now?? I'd really appreciate if anyone could let me know. Also does anyone know where i could get hold of the "rumba, rum and the problem of staying alive" documentary that features juan de dios?? thanks for your help

LadyinWaiting said...


Juan De Dios is definately still in Havana. He owns Raices Profundas with his Neice Ildo Lydia and she is carrying on his tradition of keeping the Rumba, Orishas and Son pure in Havana. You can dance with his dancers and meet him if you take a dance holiday to cuba with a company called Key2Cuba. I did it last year and loved it. Juan taught the Orishas classes and the Son classes.

Anonymous said...

Very happy to see El Kolo is still doing his thing. We are frends from the neighborhood. I just saw hin with El Goyo in the DVD of the making El Color de la Rumba.