Interview: bolero singer Mateo Stoneman


Mateo Stoneman is not your typical singer of boleros, traditional Spanish-language dance music that originated in Cuba in the late 19th century and are popular throughout much of Latin America. 

For starters, Stoneman, who was born Matthew, not Mateo, is a self-described “white guy” from the American state of New Hampshire, where Latinos comprise a tiny minority of the population. Also, Stoneman did not learn to play boleros at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, or even a music conservatory in Havana or Mexico City.

He learned to play boleros, and to sing in Spanish, while he was in prison in California, and when he got out, found that if he put a hat down in the street and started playing, people would offer up spare change and dollar bills. Since then, he’s recorded regularly in Cuba with members of the Buena Vista Social Club, and has issued a handful of CDs, including his latest, Under the MoonlightA film about Mateo’s life recently premiered in the United States at SXSW.

I spoke with Mateo in Gakugei-Daigaku before he played a gig at Roman Records Café during his second tour of Japan in two years. 



まず、ご本人いわく、アメリカのニューハンプシャー州のマテオ、ではなく、マシューズ出身の「白人」というマテオ、地元ではラテン系が非常に少なく、彼自身、ボレロを学んだのは、ジュリアード・音楽スクールでもハバナやメキシコシティの音楽学校でもなく、カリフォルニアの刑務所だったそうで、出所後、路上で歌い始めたところ、道行く人々がお金をくれたそう。そこから、現在では、キューバでブエナビスタ・ソシアル・クラブのメンバーと共に定期的にレコーディングをおこなったり、最新アルバム「Under the Moonlight」をはじめとするCDをリリースしたりするまでになっています。


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