Anniversary 65 of D’Aida Quartet foundation

Cuarteto D’Aida

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Edition and adaptation by Toni Basanta from Fairfax, Vermont, USA

The Cuarteto D’Aida was a famous Cuban female singing group. It was founded and directed by the pianist Aida Diestro  (1924–1973) in 1952.

Diestro picked four brilliant young singers to form the group: Elena Burke, Moraima Secada and the sisters Omara and Haydée Portuondo.

One of the group, Omara, is still alive and performing today;[1] she was brought back into prominence as part of the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon after 1996.

D’AIDA VOCAL INSTRUMENTAL QUARTET was part of a post World War II musical fashion known as filín (feeling, SING WITH SENTIMENT).

This was a post-microphone Jazz-influenced Song Movement related to close-harmony groups. They could sing any type of Cuban song, though the bolero was central to their style. The group was constantly heard on the radio, and toured many countries both before and after the Cuban revolution. Amazingly, the original group only made one LP record.[2]

Recordings after 1960 did not include any of the original singers.

When any of the girls left, or were otherwise unavailable, substitutes were found, many of them also highly talented.

Teté Caturla (Teresa García Caturla) joined them in 1963, and led them after Aida’s death in 1973.

Leonora Rega, Marisela Ramirez, Georgina Sánchez, Rosa Sánchez, Magaly Linares, Niurka Galarraga, and Betty Tamayo are others who have sung with the group.[3]


  1.  [1] Omara Portuondo web-site.
  2. Victor LP 1532  Cuarteto D’Aida con la Orquesta de Chico O’Farrill.
  3. An evening at the Sans Souci Cabaret.
  4. Giro , Radamés  – Eduactoir and Musicologist 2007.  Diccionario Enciclopédico de la Música en Cuba. La Habana. Vol 2, p5 



Artist Biography by Craig Harris

Directed by Havana-born pianist Aida Diestro (1928-1973), Cuarteto D’Aida was one of Cuba’s most successful singing groups of the 1950s and’60s.

Originally featuring vocalists Omara and Haydee Portuondo, Elena Burke and Moraima Secada, Cuarteto D’Aida brought a new sensibility to Cuba’s Pop Music with their sophisticated vocals and swing arrangements.

The popularity of Cuarteto D’Aida lifted the four women to international fame. They performed their songs for enthusiastic audiences in South and North America and Europe and recorded with influential Afro-Cuban trumpet player Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill.

Burke, Secada and the Portuondo sisters rose from extremely impoverished backgrounds. When they made their first appearances on Cuban television, they wore homemade clothes.

The senior member, Burke (February 1928 – August 18, 2002) (real name: Romana Burques) had the most previous experience as a performer. Having made her debut, on Havana radio station, CMQ, in 1941, she became a professional actress, a year later, and appeared regularly on the radio and in cabarets.

Cuarteto D’Aida remained together until the early-1970s. As members left to pursue solo careers, Diestro enlisted highly talented women singers to replace them. Even the death of Diestro in 1973 failed to put an end to Cuarteto D’Aida. The group continued to be active till the 1990s.

The original Quartet recorded their sole album in 1957. Although Haydee Portuondo left music and settled in the United States, her sister, Omara, continues to be heralded as the “First Lady of Cuban music.”

Elena Burke passed away, after a long bout with AIDS, on August 18, 2002.

Moraima Secada also passed away.

We’ll continue searching,

Toni Basanta

DJ Host of The Cuban Bridge on the radio and on television


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