Pablo Milanés, Grammy winning Cuban singer-songwriter, dead at 79

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Latin music trailblazer Pablo Milanés, the Cuban singer-songwriter and staunch Fidel Castro supporter who was among the pioneers of the island’s socially conscious “nueva trova” movement, died Tuesday. He was 79.

Milanés died in Madrid where he had been undergoing treatment for blood cancer, his representatives said.

Throughout a career that spanned more than five decades, Milanés was recognized as a cultural ambassador for Castro’s revolution despite being a frequent critic of the communist government.

Born to working-class parents in the eastern city of Bayamo, Milanés helped found Cuba’s politically and socially-charged nueva trova movement alongside Noel Nicola and Silvio Rodríguez, and crafted a string of hits including the influential love song “Yolanda,” “Yo Me Quedo” and “Amo Esta Isla.”

He composed his first song in 1963 as a member of Cuarteto del Rey in the early 1960s. The song “Tu Mi Desengano” addressed moving on from lost love.

The winner of two Latin Grammys in 2006, Milanés was also the recipient of numerous Cuban honors including 1982′s Alejo Carpentier medal and the 2005 National Music Prize in 2005.

Earlier this month, Milanés announced he was being hospitalized and canceled concerts.

With News Wire Services