SM PIER — Alex Cuba is industrious. His e-mail signature even reads, “Watch out, world, here is an artist managing himself.” And he manages himself and his career very well.
His guidance of his career has led him to the Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier Thursday and though he’s played Los Angeles venues such as The Mint many times, he’s never played by the water.
“It’s always been great in Los Angeles, but I’ve never played outside. I’m really looking forward to playing on the pier,” he said. “Los Angeles is one of those places that I feel somehow very comfortable because they seem to know my music and my songs. There’s a great Latino community here, the weather reminds me of my home in Cuba and it always makes me feel welcome. It’s a very happening place.”
The Artemisa, Cuba native who currently resides in Smithers, B.C. (14 hours north of Vancouver) has won two Juno Awards for World Music Album of the Year — in 2006 for “Humo De Tabaco” and in 2008 for his second album, “Agua Del Pozo.”
In 2010, he won the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist, and he’s collaborated with Nelly Furtado for her Spanish language debut album “Mi Plan” (“My Plan”), which was released September 2009, (Cuba co-wrote more than half of the songs on Furtado’s album) but the success, if anything, has surprised him.
“It’s been quite the journey for me. I came to Canada as a bass player and my original goal was to become a bass player for somebody famous. That was my drive. I wanted to play with Alanis Morissette. That was my goal.”
From his earliest years in Artemisa (which is one hour west of Havana), he was immersed in music. Cuba’s first stage appearance on national TV was at the tender age of 4, playing claves (a percussion instrument) in a group directed by his music instructor father. He went on to study guitar, percussion and bass, practicing eight hours a day during his teens.
“I spent many years in Cuba being a bass player. But slowly something changed in me while I was in Canada. I started to make my own CDs and when I won the Juno I said, ‘Wow! I guess they really liked it,’” Cuba said.