Very sad news with the passing of Cuban singing sensation Margarita Pracatan.
Calling her “one of a kind” doesn’t do Margarita justice. She developed a unique style as a performer, winging the notes on her electric keyboard and singing however she wanted regardless of what the song required. If she didn’t know some of the words she’d just make them up. It was a joyful, endearing, and highly entertaining approach to performing that earned her fans around the world.
I found out about Margarita when she performed the closing number each week on the late journalist and presenter Clive James’ show back in England in the 1990s. After I moved to the States and launched Dining With Strangers, I knew I had to meet Margarita. And so we got dinner in December 2008, with her telling me about growing up in Cuba and later moving to America.
We met a few more times over the years, enjoying some drinks and fun conversation in her cute Manhattan apartment. She was always a gracious host, quick to laugh, and always willing to break out the keyboard for a song.
“My whole life I’ve always been happy and enjoyed singing to people,” Margarita told me when I interview her, but she never had professional piano or singing lessons. Instead, she created her own singing style. “My English is not so good, the singing may be bad but people like it. Sometimes people like something different. I play by ear, my singing is fuggedaboutit.”
I’m raising a glass of Grand Marnier to her while humming “New York, New York” with all the wrong notes. Farewell Margarita.