Cesar Portillo de la Luz only needed his guitar to give birth to mystery. A guitar and his peculiar sensitivity. He was born 100 years ago in Havana, the same city where he died less than a decade ago and where he wrote exceptional songs, which are already embedded in the repertoire of Cuban music.
One song will be sufficing to name him as one of the essentials, Contigo en la Distancia (With you, in the distance), which is for sure one of the Filin’s flagships, a true anthem, a metaphor of the empire of love in people’s memory. Singers from all over the world have echoed his music and highlighted the melodic richness as well as the lyrical implications.
Together with José Antonio Méndez, Frank Domínguez, Ñico Rojas, Elena Burke, and other singers and singer-songwriters, Portillo de la Luz paved ways in Cuban popular music by endowing it with new interpretive approaches, which combined the traditions of bolero singers and troubadours with other sounds from the Havana’s night at the end of the first half of the 20th century.
Filin is the genre of small clubs, night and intimate music… although it can be performed at any time, as long as the proper conditions are set. In fact, it is the Filin the one setting that tone. And it can blossom at any gathering of friends.
Time and time again César Portillo de la Luz starred more or less spontaneous gatherings with his guitar and his peculiar voice, his way of saying things.
He played his guitar regularly in cabarets, cultural centers, radio and television, for several decades. He played until the end. He was a man of strong convictions and defended his ideas tenaciously. But his greatest argument was his music, which ceased to belong to him to become the heritage of his people.