Bola de Nieve

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Bola de Nieve
Bola de Nieve
Bola de Nieve
Background information
Birth nameIgnacio Jacinto Villa Fernández[citation needed]
Born(1911-09-11)11 September 1911
Guanabacoa, La Habana, Cuba
Died2 October 1971(1971-10-02) (aged 60)
Ciudad de México, Mexico
GenresCanción, bolero, habanera, son cubano
Occupation(s)Singer, musician, composer
LabelsOrfeón, Discmedi, RCA Victor Mexicana,Montilla, Sonotone, Kubaney, Modiner, Areito

Bola de Nieve (literally Snowball) (11 September 1911 – 2 October 1971), born Ignacio Jacinto Villa Fernández, was a Cuban singer-pianist and songwriter. His name originates from his round, black face.[1]

Villa Fernández was born in Guanabacoa, and studied at the Mateu Conservatoire of Havana. He worked as a chauffeur and played piano for silent films until his friend Rita Montaner took him on as an accompanist in the early 1930s. After Montaner returned to Cuba, Villa Fernández remained in Mexico and developed an original performance style as a pianist and singer. He was an elite rather than a popular figure, a sophisticated cabaret stylist known for ironic patter, subtle musical interpretation, with a repertoire that included songs in French, English, Catalan, Portuguese, and Italian. He toured widely in Europe and the Americas, and his friends included Andrés Segovia and Pablo Neruda. He was black and gay, and was self-confident in his personality, and accepted for what he was: a memorable talent.[2][3]

He died in Mexico City during a musical visit.[4]

He was the subject of a 2003 documentary which included interviews with fellow musicians, friends, relatives, and experts.[5]


Fernández is one of the most influential figures of Afro-Cuban jazz. He often synthesized elements of European and North American musical traditions with Latin elements, which gave his music a sound distinct from his contemporaries.[6]

His music is often deeply emotional, going as far as to openly sob his lyrics.[6]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Giro, Radamés 2007. Diccionario enciclopédico de la música en Cuba. La Habana. vol 1, p139
  2. ^ Depestre Catony, Leonardo 1990. Cuatro músicos de una villa. Letras Cubanas, La Habana. Biographies of four musicians from Guanabacoa: Ernesto Lecuona, Rita Montaner, Bola de Nieve and Juan Arrondo.
  3. ^ Moved by spirits: Cuba's musical legends still alive in today's music by Jordan Levin, McClatchy Newspapers, 19 April 2007
  4. ^ Conner, Randy P.; Sparks, David Hatfield (2004). Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Participation in African-inspired Traditions in the Americas. New York: Harrington Park Press. pp. 262–. ISBN 978-1-56023-351-0.
  5. ^ Review of documentary film Bola de Nieve by Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix, 24 October 2003 Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b Jacobs, Glenn (1991). "Bola de Nieve: Afro-Cuban Musical Innovator". Journal of Black Studies. 22 (1): 77–103. ISSN 0021-9347.

External links[edit]