5 June 1955
26 November 2002 (aged 47)
Polo Montañez (June 5, 1955 - November 26, 2002) was a Cuban singer and songwriter
Montañez was born Fernando Borrego Linares in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Río, in a farm known as El Brujito. At an early age he worked various jobs including driving a tractor, milking cows, making coal, assisting on the family farm, and as a lumberjack. In his spare time, Montañez would go from house to house singing and later began to sing in local parties and family gatherings.
In 1994, Montañez formed his own ensemble of family and friends. He quickly became the house act at a resort in the nearby touristic community of Las Terrazas, and in 1999, Montañez signed with European record label Lusafrica after being discovered by one of their directors that was staying at the resort.
Montañez had his biggest success in March 2000 with his first CD "Guajiro Natural" and the song "Un montón de Estrellas". He became known as the Guajiro Natural (Natural Countryman) because of his humble personality and songs about the peasant life in Cuba.
Polo Montañez died on November 26, 2002, six days after being hospitalized in the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital, as a result of a tragic car accident in the Coronela zone near San Cristóbal, Pinar del Río. The Centro Cultural (Cultural Centre) on the main square in Viñales, Pinar del Rio, is named in his memory
His nickname – adopted when Montañez was still a coal worker and truck driver playing music as an off-hours escape – reflects the green hills southeast of Havana where Montañez lived all of his life. Those same hills also formed the backdrop for his infectious brand of guajiro music, marked by what he called "clean, bright, precise" lyrics about love and friendship; a freewheeling mix of traditional island dance rhythms, including bachata, son, bolero, and guaracha; catchy tunes and arpeggiated interludes played on the Cuban tres; and soaring above it all, Montañez's raspy, sun-splotched tenor, frequently compared to that of the legendary Beny Moré.
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