Omara Portuondo Signs with Disney

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Critics describe Cuban singer Omara Portuondo’s voice as deep, sultry, expressive, compassionate and heavenly. And they’re not exaggerating, as evidenced by her latest album, Gracias, for which she won a Latin Grammy last year.

Her vocals have not gone unnoticed in other industries, either. The 79-year-old living legend was tapped to lend her voice to the Spanish version of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (or, more accurately, Tiana y el Sapo). Portuondo, who rose to fame as the sole female member of the Buena Vista Social Club, will play Mama Odie, a voodoo priestess who lives in a New Orleans swamp.

Not a bad start to what is already shaping up to be a busy year for the diva. She was recently in Havana signing copies of her biography, Los Ángeles También Cantan, written by fellow Cubano Oscar Oramas. And later this month, she kicks off a U.S. tour before taking her act to Europe this summer.

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Grace Bastidas, Deputy Editor

Born and raised in Queens, New York, where more languages are spoken than anywhere in the world, Grace Bastidas is Latina’s Deputy Editor. She oversees lifestyle content, including topics as diverse as career, health and relationships, and occasionally writes about her own experiences in The Good Life section. As a writer, Grace’s work has appeared in The New York TimesNew York magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure. She is fluent in Spanish.

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