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Cuba based rap duo, Zona Franka, blends traditional rhythms with the grit and swagger of hip-hop and rap vocal phrasings. Their clever shout choruses create instant tropical dance classics using their unique self-titled "changui con flow" style.
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Alain Almeida Manzanares

Do you have family in the world of music or what do your parents do?

I have cousins in music and art, but the one who stands out most is one of my cousins who sang with Orishas - Yotuel Romero Manzanares. My parents are not musicians. although my mother is a lawyer but she never stops singing, so I assume that my vocation for music comes from my mother's family.

At what age did you start with music and why?

I started in music at age 16 singing in local bands of Havana where I was born and raised, but I always had this interest, because as a child sang and I started writing songs at age twelve. I still keep notebooks where I wrote my first lyrics and that was in1992.

You studied voice with Gladys Puig and Hugo Olse. Tell us about them and this period.

My mentors and tutors were Gladys Puig and Hugo Osle. They were active in the world of vocals. I learned a lot form them. It is to them I owe my improvement as a singer and artist. Having been a student of theirs fills me with pride, because it was a great learning experience and evolution. For this I will always be eternally grateful to them for everything they did for me, because both are excellent voice teachers and recognized and admired by all in Cuba.

Do you have any favorite singers?

I have many favorite singers and artists. The first is Michael Jackson, arguably the most complete of all. As an artist I admire Charles Chaplin for everything and gave conveyed without saying a word. As a singer for me Marc Anthony is best, and I cannot help but mention my admiration and respect for great voices such as Leo Vera, Michel Maza and Mayito Rivera.

What was the first pofessional group you sang in? And tell us about how you started with them and about your musical career after you entered the professionals groups.

I enter the world of Timba Orchestras at age 16 singing in an amateur group called Raíces Salseras. From there I went to various groups until I joined SELLO L.A. at the age of 18. It is the group of Luisito and Alexander Abreu  - sons of Luis Abreu, a member of the famous group Los Papines !!!

This was my first professional orchestra. With them I recorded an album titled "Tranquilo y Sin Lío" a CD recorded in 1999 with the participation of Alexander Abreu and Igor who then were part of the group of Paulo FG with SELLO L.A. I did two tours of Europe with presentations in countries such as Sweden, Spain, Finland, and Denmark where we hit most of the country with the Ballet of Cuban Television, Los Papines and Carlos del Puerto as Director General of the whole show that we put on.

I was also part of La Charanga Forever and Orchestra La Bola with Michel Maza. Then I returned to SELLO L.A. until I joined the Orchestra of Robert Armas y Los Conquistadores de la Salsa. I came with them to Peru in March 2002.

Now you have your own group. Why did you decide to start a group?

My childhood dream has always been to sing the songs I write, but having my own orchestra was not my idea. I was obliged to by the fact that is living the same situation I faced when I separated abruptly from the Orchestra of Barbaro Fines y su Mayimbe one month from their first tour of the USA and logically the support of the Timbero audiences of Lima and Callao and different promoters and entrepreneurs that led me to be part of La Constelación de Cuba and risk taking on this new project. It is an opportunity for me to continue fighting for my dreams, fantasies and goals.

What are the characteristics of your band that make it stand out from other orchestras in Lima?

La Constelación de Cuba stands out, shines and draws the attention of the local market of Peru because we write our own music, and with it we cover all styles of Cuban Salsa or Timba or whatever you want to call it. In Lima and Callao there are many Salsa and Timba orchestras, but very few that write their own music and stand as do Barbaro Fines y su Mayimbe and La Timba Criolla!!! So I do wish to mention them because their efforts and contribution to the growth, development and evolution of this genre we represent must be recognized.

What are your favorite groups in timba, salsa and other genres?

I love Timba groups like La Charanga Habanera, Los Van Van, Pupy y los que Son Son, Manolito y su Trabuco but I also like bands like Gente D'Zona, Los 4 and Cola Loca. I listen to everything so I like bands like Coldplay, Green Day, and tthe Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.

You are recording your first album "Pa 'lante y con Fe". What can you tell us about the CD?

The Disco "PA LANTE y con FE" will have 10 tracks written by me and by Mr Osuan Ponciano, who is the Musical Director of La Constelación de Cuba. He is responsible for writing all arrangements as well as the general production of the album togther with me and my partner and representative Mr Hugo Odiaga. The CD will be ready by the end of March in time for the party for the orchestra on March 28 in the Lima Nightclub MAKUMBA, which will host the Second Anniversary of La Constelación de Cuba - 
((( La Con$ ))) as we are affectionately called by our timberos fans - and the album will be distributed and marketed by CUBANMUSIC.

Have you finished filming the video for "Hoy serás mía"?

We have still not finished recording the video clip, and the recording process is slow because we ourselves are invest in recording and producing the album "Pa Lante y con Fe" and also everything that has to do with the video clip "HOY SERÁS MIA". The song is already playing on some radios stations in Peru such as Radio La Zona and Radio Moda, the two major youth radio stations of Peru. I still don't have an exact date when the video will be ready, but I can promise it will soon be available to all of you by the Favor and Grace of God!!!
Saturday, 21 February 2015, 06:01 AM