Cuban jazz vocalist Mayra Caridad Valdés devoted most of her musical career to live performance, singing as part of Irakere and also with her famous brother Chucho, before debuting as a recording artist in 2002. Born on April 20, 1956, to Bebo Valdés, a legendary Cuban jazz pianist, Mayra studied at the National Art School in Cuba and graduated in 1975 with a degree in choral music. She initially worked as a musicologist alongside Odilio Urfe but instead turned toward performing after Harry Belafonte invited her to perform with him in 1981 at his concerts in Cuba. Following this golden opportunity, Valdés never looked back. She toured Japan and Europe as a solo vocalist and as a member of numerous groups including Irakere, a group she permanently joined in 1994, and also her brother Chucho's quartet. In 2002 Jazzheads released her debut solo album, La Diosa del Mar, a ten-song collection of Afro-Cuban jazz standards, traditional folkloric songs, and boleros.
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