Aug. 10 - Cuba's popular dance band, Los Van Van, kicked off a tour of the U.S. with a concert in Washington D.C. historic Howard Theater. John Russell reports.
One of Cuba's greatest exports, its music, reached the United States this summer as the iconic salsa band Los Van Van performed in Washington, D.C. on Friday (August 7), kicking off their first U.S. tour after the two countries began the process of normalizing full relations. The band will perform its unique Caribbean beat to Washington, D.C., for the first time in over 50 years since the two countries opened embassies in each others' capitals. Singer Lele said the artists believe that the current political climate between Washington and Havana will increase opportunities for Cubans, particularly those still living on the island. SOUNDBITE Singer LeLe on the changes, saying (English): "So the ones who will win are Cubans who will have more options. The Cubans on the island feel the changes, maybe not all the ones we would want but since we're not politicians, we're not in the know about how quickly changes can happen, whether they can move quickly or slowly, but you can see the changes. Those of us who live in Cuba can see the changes but I'll tell you what, you can see the changes outside of Cuba. (musicians nod) You see the changes in Miami also." Winners of the 2000 Grammy Award in the salsa category, the 45-year-old band is known for its strong percussive roots and its multi-layered instrumentation. The group will continue their tour with performances in New York, Denver, California and Miami.