Friday, 18 June 2021


Felipa Graciela Pérez y Gutiérrez (August 23, 1915 – April 7, 2010) was an Afro-Cuban singer of Latin jazz. She was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in the Afro-Cuban Jesús María neighborhood. A pioneer in music  she opened doors for all those who followed her. 










She performed around the world, recording and sharing the stage with her adoptive older brother, Frank Grillo (known as Machito), who encouraged her to sing. They played alongside Mario Bauzá (originator of the genre of Afro-Cuban Jazz) in the orchestra Machito and the Afro-Cubans. Graciela was known for her tremendous voice, risque and sassy stage presence and sexy double entendre lyrics. She could sing a jazzy guaracha as easily as handling the most romantic boleros. Though her last names were Pérez Gutiérrez, she was only known by her first name, Graciela.












She was summoned to New York City in 1943 by Mario Bauzá, when Machito was drafted into the army. She joined the orchestra as lead singer until Machito returned in 1944 and from then on the three shared the stage together until their split in 1975. For thirty-two years, they traveled the United States and the rest of the world and performed at the Palladium Ballroom from 1946 until its closing in 1966. Besides the Palladium, they would perform at the Royal Roost, Birdland, the Park Palace, the Corso and the Apollo Theater on a yearly week-long gig—and many other clubs and theaters in New York. Graciela and the orchestra also performed on a yearly basis in Hollywood—specifically at the Crescendo nightclub. Graciela and the band were also a favorite of the disc jockey Symphony Sid Torin who had them on his weekly program several times a year. They were also the summer headliners in the Concord Resort Hotel, in the Catskills Mountains, for more than twenty years.










From 1952 to 2004 she recorded 10 Lps from which her best-known recordings include "Esta es Graciela", "Íntimo y Sentimental" and "Esa Soy Yo, Yo Soy Así". Felipa Graciela Pérez y Gutiérrez died at the age of 94 at New York Cornell-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on April 7, 2010.