La Lupe [1936-1992]
Guadalupe Victoria Yolí Raymond was born in the eastern city of Santiago, Cuba, and moved to Havana in the 1950s to earn a teaching degree. Instead of becoming a teacher, though, she married and formed a trio with her husband, Eulogio "Yoyo" Reyes, and they performed at a small Havana nightclub called La Red (the net), where La Lupe’s intensely emotional style earned her a devoted following of international Bohemians that included Ernest Hemingway and Simone de Beauvoir.
Her frenzied performances—which included passionate exclamations and occasionally even removal of clothing—enthralled, awed, and sometimes disturbed her audiences. After the 1959 Cuban revolution, such sensual excesses were frowned upon by government authorities and La Lupe left Cuba in 1962, first moving to Mexico, and then the U.S.
In New York she met countryman Mongo Santamaría, with whom she recorded a successful album, and she soon came to the attention of legendary bandleader Tito Puente. La Lupe and Puente teamed up for four successful albums in the 1960s, first on the Tico label and then with FANIA, and she developed a special affinity during this time for the songs of Puerto Rican composer Tite Curet Alonso, including La Tirana, and Puro Teatro.
Her sometimes shocking performances and unbridled temper ultimately caused Fania to cancel her contract and La Lupe’s career declined in the 1970s until she retired altogether in the 1980s. Yet, La Lupe’s expressive and passionate voice made an indelible impact on Latin music.