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A love for music helped this Cuban singer get to Tampa

The Cuban singer Andy Falcón immigrated to the United States after threats in his home country.
Andy Falcón poses for a portrait at José Martí Park in Ybor City on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.
Andy Falcón poses for a portrait at José Martí Park in Ybor City on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Feb. 11

Click here to read this story in Spanish.

TAMPA — One of his songs was born in a cell.

This song became a “hymn” for many immigrants, said Andy Falcón, the young Cuban artist who wrote it.

When Falcón was in an immigration detention center in New Mexico, he began to speak with others there about their journeys to the United States. Using these experiences and memories of his own journey, he wrote “Grito Mundial,” a song that was released on the International Day of the Immigrant.

Now, Falcón lives in Tampa and continues composing music. The 31-year-old artist said he feels fortunate to be in the U.S. For many immigrants, it has been very difficult to leave everything behind and head to America, he said.

The lyrics of “Grito Mundial” reflect this difficulty:

¿Qué pasó, qué pasó?: “What happened, what happened?”

Pude ver que la alegría de mi cara se borró: “I could see that the joy from my face was erased.”

¿Qué pasó, qué pasó?: “What happened, what happened?”

Esa vida que quería, en seguida se murió: “This life that I wanted suddenly died.”

Salí de casa solo con un nudo en la garganta... : “I left home alone with a lump in my throat.”

“There are many times of waiting, of uncertainty, of sacrifice, of survival, above everything,” Falcón said in Spanish of his song. “But unfortunately, we — not only Cubans, but Latinos — have had to suffer firsthand upon leaving our places of origin. Many of us have not arrived.”

Falcón recorded his first song in 2015. But his problems with the Cuban government began in 2017, when he launched a music video for “Verano + Cubano,” which quickly became a popular song in Cuba.

Falcón produced the song solely through his own efforts, but the Cuban government manages all public figures. And now, Falcón had become a public figure. For this reason, the government began to censor him, even though he had never sung anything political. The island’s government didn’t approve his documents to be an official musician and they made it difficult to obtain a platform, Falcón recalled.

“What can I tell you? There were bad moments, very difficult moments,” Falcón said.

Then, he launched a music video that was much more critical, called “Soy.”

“It was the sentiment of any human being that lived in Cuba and it denounced many things,” he said.

Then, the government began to threaten him. They harassed his mother and threatened to kill him, he said.

“I told my mom: ‘Look, mom, don’t worry, I’m going to continue on ... and what will be, will be. If I have to die, so be it. But I’m going to sing what I want and what I like, not what they tell me to,” Falcón said.

Two years ago he decided to go to the U.S. with the help of a friend who lives in Tampa.

It was a journey that lasted five days. He flew from Cuba to Cancún, Mexico, in camouflage because he said he was afraid someone would recognize him. In Mexico, he took several taxis before arriving at the border.

He made it to El Paso, Texas, where he sought asylum, and was detained there until he was sent to a detention center en Cibola County in New Mexico. He spent more than a month there, and wrote “Grito Mundial.” Then, he was sent to another detention center in Otero County, New Mexico, and spent two months there before arriving in Tampa.

Andy Falcón poses for a portrait at José Martí Park in Ybor City on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.
Andy Falcón poses for a portrait at José Martí Park in Ybor City on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

“I arrived thinking I wouldn’t sing again,” Falcón said of giving up his life of music to find another job.

However, his plans changed when he went to Lutheran Services in Florida. There, he meet Carlos José Peralta, who is the community outreach coordinator and has worked for years in media.

Falcón told Peralta about his song, “Grito Mundial,” which was a reflection of his journey and the journeys of others to arrive in the United States. Peralta said he was impressed with the young artist’s talent and presented him to a local producer.

“He’s very humble,” Peralta said of Falcón, who is proud of his origin and his family. In Cuba, Falcón grew up in a home that didn’t even have a telephone.

Peralta also introduced him to Maritza Astorquiza and Alex Cora, the owners of Coda Sound, a visual and sound production business. In 2019, Falcón participated in a festival organized by this business, Conga Caliente.

Falcón caught Astorquiza’s attention because his song lyrics had meaning. He’s very dedicated to his music, Astorquiza said.

“He does it with feeling,” she said. “A long time ago, songs really had meaning.”

Last month, Falcón launched a videoclip for his song, “O todo O nada.” Now, he has plans for three more songs, including one dedicated to Miami, where he professionally records his songs.

For Falcón, music not only allows him to express his emotions — it’s also a way of reflecting.

“It’s very simple. Music is something than no one can take away from me,” he said. “The creation of my lyrics, no one is able to take away from me.”