Cuba’s legendary Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club will perform at the White House Thursday, the first Cuban-based musical act to perform at the U.S. presidential mansion in more than 50 years.
The group’s appearance at the White House is part of a reception honoring both Hispanic Heritage Month and the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Named after a long-defunct members-only venue in Havana, the group was formed in the late 1990s when a group of elderly Cuban musicians was brought together for a recording session by American guitarist and producer Ry Cooder that led to a multimillion-selling Grammy Award-winning album, an acclaimed documentary film and sold-out world tours.
Thursday’s performance at the White House not only comes in the middle of the group’s farewell tour, it also represents the end of the Cold War-era animosity between Washington and Havana. The two sides have reopened long-shuttered embassies in their respective capitals in the 10 months since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban counterpart Raul Castro announced they were restoring diplomatic relations.