Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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First recorded (as “Guajira Guantanamera”) by Joséito Fernández (1940).
Also recorded by Pete Seeger (1963), Celia Cruz (1967).
Hit versions by The Sandpipers (US #9/MOR #3/UK #7/CAN #10/IRE #3 1966), Wyclef Jean & the Refugee Camp All Stars (US #62/R&B #23/UK #25 1997).

From the wiki: “‘Guantanamera’ (Spanish: ‘from Guantánamo, feminine’, thus ‘she from Guantánamo’) is perhaps the best-known Cuban song and that country’s most noted patriotic song.

“The music for the song is sometimes attributed to José Fernández Diaz, known as Joseíto Fernández, who claimed to have written it at various dates (consensus puts 1929 as its year of origin), and who used it regularly in one of his radio programs. After a lengthy copyright dispute, the People’s Supreme Court of Cuba credited Fernández as the sole composer of the music in 1993.

“The version recorded in 1963 by Pete Seeger (‘Turn! Turn! Turn!‘, ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)‘), for his We Shall Overcome album, was based on lyrics written by Cuban patriot José Martí and is said to be the definitive recording of ‘Guantanamera’.

“Seeger combined Martí’s verse with the tune, with the intention that it be used by the peace movement at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. He urged that people sing the song as a symbol of unity between the American and Cuban peoples.

“The most commercially-successful version of ‘Guantanamera’ in the English-speaking world was recorded by easy listening vocal group The Sandpipers in 1966. Their recording was based on the Weavers’ 1963 Carnegie Hall reunion concert rendition.

“‘Guantanamera’ is one of the songs most commonly identified with Cuban singer Celia Cruz. She recorded it on at least 241 different records, her earliest commercial recording being on Bravo Celia Cruz in 1967 for the Mexican label Tico Records.

Wyclef Jean presents The Carnival, released in 1997, featured Jean and the Refugee Camp All Stars performing an arrangement of ‘Guantanamera’ that is not a cover of the original, but an incorporation with additional lyrics/music. The album version also featured Celia Cruz (see above), Lauryn Hill, and Jeni Fujita. This version was nominated in 1998 for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.”

Pete Seeger, “Guantanamera” (1963):

The Sandpipers, “Guantanamera” (1966):

Celia Cruz, “Guantanamera” (1967):

Wyclef Jean & the Refugee Camp All Stars, “Guantanamera” (1997):

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