Alex Cuba’s musical odyssey has been a search for the simplicity and soul in Cuban music. Whether it’s taking apart complex arrangements, mixing in North American influences, adding the melodic simplicity of pop music, or looking to Cuban folk traditions for inspiration, he is always exploring.
Alex Cuba was born Alexis Puentes in Artemisa, Cuba. At a very young age, he joined his father, respected guitarist and teacher Valentin Puentes, and his group of 24 guitarists. The son went on to study electric and upright bass and began touring, first nationally and then internationally. In 1999, he moved to Victoria, British Columbia, where he recorded an album, Morumba Cubana, with his twin brother, Adonis. They called themselves The Puentes Brothers.
Alex went on to record his solo debut album, Humo De Tobaco, for which he earned a Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year for 2006. He repeated the award in 2008 with Agua Del Pozo. In 2009, he released his first-ever English track, “If You Give Me Love.” He began to garner international recognition, and in 2010, took home the award for Best New Artist at the Latin Grammy Awards, where he also got a nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Album. A nomination for Best Latin Pop Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards followed. Alex Cuba soon showed that he was more than an instrumentalist and singer. In 2011, he won a BMI Latin Award for his songwriting on Nelly Furtado’s Number One Spanish hit, “Manos Al Aire.”
In 2012, he released his fourth album, Ruido En El Sistema, for which he received an award for outstanding achievement in Jazz and World Music. A second Latin Grammy soon followed, this time as a songwriter, alongside Yoel Henriquez, for Best Tropical Song for Milly Quezada’s single, “Toma Mi Vida.” In 2013, he again brought home a Latin Grammy for the video “Eres Tú” from Ruido En El Sistema.
Cuba continued to innovate. His fifth studio album, Healer, was recorded in New York and Canada, using a live rhythm section, trading in horns for guitars and vocal harmonies. There are duets with singer/songwriters Ron Sexsmith, David Myles, Alejandra Ribera, Kuba Oms and Anya Marina. It is an upbeat, acoustic soul album, full of optimism, as Alex Cuba is. The album won a Latin Grammy for Best Singer/Songwriter and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album.
In 2017, Alex Cuba continued to push the boundaries of his music. His sixth album, Lo Único Constante, delved deeper into his songwriting roots, focusing on a nylon string guitar and upright bass and looking at the “Filin” movement in Cuba in the 1940s that fused jazz and trova, 19th-century Cuban folk music, together. The album was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Singer/Songwriter and a Grammy for Best Latin Pop.
In 2019, Alex Cuba embarked on his first-ever self-produced collection of songs featuring five collaborations, this time with Latin American singer/songwriters. The album received a Latin Grammy nomination and a performance at the televised awards show in Miami in November 2020.
In 2021, the pandemic year, Alex Cuba recorded at home and added recording engineer to his credits. The album, Mendó, is filled with international collaborations, including one with world-renowned flamenco artist Antonio Carmona, and the commissioning of a 13-piece horn band from his native Cuba. Mendó took home the 2022 Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album. It was Alex Cuba’s fourth nomination and first win, a tremendous accomplishment for an independent artist.
Alex Cuba is always searching, looking for new inspiration and new ways to present the familiar. He’s always exploring, always creating something fresh and new, and always, it seems, getting it just right.