Exclusive: 'Gente de Zona' Celebrate Launch of HBO Latino Special Shot in Cuba

Photo: Amy Anais/HBO Latino

While travel to Cuba has been a lot easier recently, it's not without controversy that performers go to the communist island to share their music with the natives.

But as we continue to evolve, the more we understand that music has no borders and should not be restricted by anyone. In the same way that J Balvinand Nicky Jamare welcomed with open arms to perform in Spanish on late night television, so will musicians continue to head 90 miles south of Miami especially when the act consists of Cuban natives Alexander Delgadoand Randy Martinez, better knows as "Gente de Zona."

The duo took the stage in Cuba in front of a Cuban audience for the HBO Latino special "Gente de Zona: En Letra de Otro" where the duo performed classic songs reinvented to fit their style. But this experience was about much more than just another show for the men, it was a trip back in time to an island that saw the group grow and flourish before taking over the U.S. market.

"This is a project that I've had on my mind for a long time and it was a dream come true that it finally came to fruition," Alexander, who founded the group in 2000, told Latina.com. "I never knew that it would all play out this way or that Sony would even approve of it but it all fell into place how it should and I'm grateful to everyone involved. 

Randy and I chose songs that were special to us and gave them that 'Gente de Zona' treatment that represented our roots. It's a very unique opportunity that was afforded to us and we appreciate that audiences can now see that 'Gente de Zona' has a wider range than most probably imagined. I have a good feeling everyone is really going to enjoy the special."

Songs chosen for the special include Luis Miguel's "Cuando Caliente El Zol," Richie Valens' "La Bamba," Willie Colon's "Idilio," and many more. The songs that meant the most to Alexander to perform include a tune by fellow Cuban Rolando Laserietitled, "Las 40" and "Una Noche de Luna" by Los Zafiros.

But overall, it wasn't any specific tune that made this accomplishment stand out. It was more about representing Cuba, the talented musicians and sounds of the island that have long been silenced on the mainland.

"I always say that we can never forget where we came from," he said emphatically. "Who we are is intertwined with our culture and it is our duty to represent Cuba in the best way possible. And even the songs that we selected not by Cuban composers, these were still songs that people loved in Cuba and would dance to often. I really can't be more proud of the final result and I hope it gets people dancing and is well received."

And while the future of the island is still pretty uncertain, Alexander simply hopes for a better tomorrow for his people and the island he has loved and cherised his entire life. 

"Cuba is an island that has many problems, but it's my dream that people from all over the world are able to visit it. Many countries in the world have problems, but it doesn't take away the beauty of its culture and its people. Everyone knows I am a proud Cuban singer and that I represent the island all over the world. Cuba definitely needs some change to happen for the betterment of the people. 

At the end of the day, I am an artist and I don't get very involved in politics mainly because I am not versed on the topic. Had I wanted to be in politics, I would've sought out a career in it. I have felt attacked many times as an artist for going back to Cuba, but all my family is still there. I have performed there because my first supporters and fans are still there and I'm grateful to them. 

I want to share my happiness and success with my people in Cuba because I am a proud Cuban. I want to be able to share my music with my people and leave politics out of it. Hopefully one day, Cuba will see a better tomorrow and I look forward to all of these challenges being a thing of the past."