How Yani became the artist he is now
We were fortunate to speak with the Cuban singer based in Canada, Yani Borrell, who has been kind enough to spare us a few minutes of his busy schedule to reveal unpublished details of his beginnings in music, departure from Cuba, arrival in Canada, current projects, among other things.
Then these were the most important issues that came up in the conversation we had with the artist for a little over half an hour.
Yani joined Grupo Constitución being just a 17-year-old. In his native city of Camagüey, there was a small square where concerts were held and Grupo Constitución used to rehearse there. One day, the young man was going through the place and was struck by what the musicians were doing at that moment.
Suddenly, the musical director asked the vocalist to make a little more complex melody, but failed. However, Yani perceived the sound and reproduced it with his lips loudly. That got the music director’s attention so much that he asked the young man to come over and show the singer what he had done.
When he repeated it, the musical director of the group was so fascinated that he asked her to join them. This is how Yani began to study music to a more professional level and to hold the necessary auditions to be able to belong to an orchestra in Cuba (this was a mandatory requirement in the country to belong to a musical group).
After attracting the attention of other groups due to his talent, Yani was contacted by a more renowned orchestra, Yani decided to leave Grupo Constitución and go with his new companions to seize this new opportunity that life had to offer.
Making music in Cuba
We know that the political and economic situation in Cuba has been complicated for some decades, so we wanted to know how Yani lived these years in his native country while devoting himself to music.
That’s when he started telling us that he had to live through the terrible Special Period, one of the worst crises experienced by the island, so logically he did not have the necessary resources to devote himself fully to his passion and put aside any other job at that time.
This is because Yani thought that being in a mildly famous orchestra would bring him the benefits he was looking for, but unfortunately, it was not so. Rather, he was really struck with the difficult reality that sometimes performances and concerts were paid several months later.
Yani and many of his colleagues had to borrow in order to survive and wait for the pay day to settle the debts with those same people. This situation persisted for quite some time until he could work for an orchestra established for tourism, with which payments were a little more regular.
However, she had to make a living doing other activities outside the world of the arts. In his case, Yani was self-employed and even had a small mobile coffee shop where he sold sandwiches. At the same time, he studied music and worked with some orchestras, since it was impossible to live only from music.
The first level orchestras that toured internationally always pursued better financial compensation for their musicians, but salaries were still insufficient to alleviate the crisis experienced in Cuba.
Moving to Canada, Toronto
The process to live Cuba and move to Canada was extremely hard. Yani had already toured the North American country for some time, in fact, he was in about 25 Canadian cities during his tours, so he already knew the territory quite well.
Before the second tour he would do in that country with his orchestra of the day, the artist was very clear that he was going to ”defect from Cuba” (that is how the act of leaving the country at the first opportunity is called in Cuba).
While it is true that his standard of living had improved considerably with this international orchestra, this did not offer the stability he wanted, so he resigned from the group, decided to stay and live permanently in Canada and start a new life.
Today, he is completely satisfied with the results of his decisions and knows very well that he has done the right things for his career and his life in general.
Adaptation to the Toronto music scene
One of the hardest decisions was already made, but there were still some challenges to overcome. He had to face language and cultural barriers in order to stand ut and make a place in the city’s Latin music scene.
At the same time, he worked in factories and even start his own business. He says there were times when he did not even sleep because he played with several local orchestras at the same time, so dividing his time between each of them was a titanic task. However, all the effort paid off.
After being with one of the most renowned orchestras in the area, Yani realized it was time to create his own project, which he called Yani Borrell & The Clave Kings.
After all this, he began to be prompted by a group of people who wanted to help him and pushed him to keep growing, thanks to which he released his first solo album in 2013.
The artist management company C.W. Entertainment was very important in Yoni’s growth as an artist, because at one point it joined forces with the artist and boosted his career to such an extent that this team made him one of the most important salsa artists of the time in Canada. So much was the support that it was this label that filmed his first two music videos.
Although he no longer works with that company for a year and a half, Yani assures that he still has an excellent relationship with its team and thanks these people for everything they have done for him.
Today, the Cuban already has his own record label and is entirely independent in this aspect.
El Elegante de La Salsa (The Elegance of Salsa)
One of the names by which Yani Borrell has been known throughout his career is ”El Elegante de La Salsa” due to his style when singing in this genre and the use of formal wear in concerts.
Regarding the story of how the nickname came about, it was precisely a social communicator who was very well liked in the city of Toronto, constantly interviewed the Cuban singer and started refering to him as ”the heartthrob”.
However, this journalist was the host of the concert in which Yani released his album and referred to him as ”El Galán de La Salsa” (The Salsa Heartthrob) at the moment of presenting him to the public.
From there, the public started refering to him as ”el galán” and ”el elegante”, which led one of his managers to tell him to start calling himself ”El Elegante de La Salsa”.
Recently the nominees for the Latino de Oro Music Award have been announced, among which Yoni Borrell appears as one of the nominees for the ”Impact Singer with International Projection” category.
This was news that Yoni received with great pleasure due to so many years of effort to lift his artistic career. This and each one of the recognitions that the artist has received throughout his career has made him feel very proud and sure that he is on the right path.
He also revealed for the first time that he will be one of the artists invited to perform on stage that day to animate the event in the city of León, Spain.
To end the conversation, Yoni finished giving a message to Cuban musicians in which he said that they should always focus on discipline, which he defined as ”the mother of perfection”. He also invited these same young people not to despair and to be constant, since this career is an endurance race, not a marathon.
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