© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sundial: The Cuban government saw his music as a threat –– Paquito D’Rivera on his illustrious career

Award-winning musician, Paquito D’Rivera donated his archives to the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection.
Ricardo Rios
Courtesy of Paquito D’Rivera
Award-winning musician, Paquito D’Rivera donated his archives to the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection.

Paquito D’Rivera was just 10 years old when he wowed the audience at Cuba’s National Theater Orchestra with his saxophone.

Over his lifetime, the sax became his muse. He’d win his first Grammy award while still living in Cuba. He played the music the government called the music of the enemy. It was too imperialist, they said––too American.

D’Rivera fled Cuba and he defected while on tour. He’d win 13 more Grammy and Latin Grammy awards. And went on to become one of the world’s great musical talents. And not just for one musical form. He won Grammys for Jazz… and for reimagining classical music.

He jazzed up Mozart at the Kennedy Center. He played solos with the London Philharmonic. And he practice, practice, practiced his way to Carnegie Hall — where he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to Latin music.

He’s recorded more than 30 albums and written several books on music. Even a memoir squeezed in there with a title that might make you laugh or blush: My Sax Life.

On the Jan. 26 episode of Sundial, we speak with D’Rivera about his illustrious
career and his decision to donate his archives to the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami.

On Sundial's previous episode, we spoke with humor writer Dave Barry. We discuss his upcoming book, Swamp Story, which features the oddities of swamp culture and TikTok. They also discuss his life growing up and how his family, especially his mother, influenced his unique sense of humor.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Stay in touch with us via text by joining our Sundial text club. Send us your thoughts, ideas or questions by texting the word “join” to 786-677-0767. You can also email us at sundial@wlrnnews.org

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.