Carlos’s life has been dedicated to the teaching and the performance of Afro-Cuban music. This passion and commitment to the rich culture of Cuban people, has afforded him to teach and perform music throughout Europe, the Americas and Africa. Carlos Aldama now lives in San Leandro, CA and is available for lectures, consultations, private classes, performances and workshops.
In 1999 Carlos was invited to California and awarded an Artist in Residence grant from the California Arts Council. He now lives in San Leandro, California where he continues to teach and perform Afro Cuban Folkloric music at schools, cultural centers and in his own home. He is also a central figure in the Yoruba religious community here in Northern California and is looked up to by many as a community leader. He is routinely “called in” as Akpwon for Afro Cuban Ana ceremonies in the Lukumi Santeria religion.
Carlos Lazaro Aldama Perez Carlos was born in Havana Cuba in 1938. His mother is of African ancestry, and father is mixed Chinese and African ancestry. He was brought up within the tradition and was recognized as a talented drummer from a very young age. Though he had a strong traditional education there were not many opportunities for young men of African ancestry prior to the Cuban Revolution (1959). After the revolution, this changed dramatically. Carlos was recognized for his depth of knowledge in African Diaspora culture and was invited to be a co-founder of the Ministry of Culture, Havana Cuba (1959). He then also became the co-founder of Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba (1962). CFNC was founded in order to preserve and pass on Cuba’s unique cultural heritage to future generations. Prior to CFNC Carlos worked with Fernando Ortiz. Fernando Ortiz is best known for bringing the Bata drums out of the religious setting for its first public appearance (1935). He also worked closely with Lydia Cabrera one of the most widely published scholars on Afro-Cuban Diaspora religions and producer of the historic Smithsonian Folkway Recordings (1956-57). The knowledge that he has was passed to him orally by his teacher Jesus Perez “Oba Ilu”. Jesus Perez was the original musical director of CFNC. After Jesus moved on, Carlos became the musical director for the next fifteen years of the total twenty-eight years in which he remained with CFNC. During that time he traveled the world with the group performing some of the most prestigious stages in the world, from Paris to Moscow, from Lima to Mexico City, New York to Toronto, Madrid to Florence, Varsovia to Argel, Accra to Kinshasa to name a few. Both the Cuban government and the Ministry of Culture have recognized Carlos for significant contribution to the richness and livelihood of Afro-Cuban traditions. He has also been awarded a Doctorate on Folkloric Percussion and has a degree from The School of Music Ignacio Servantes Institute of Superior Art (ISA) in Havana, Cuba.