Name and location of repository
Level of description
- circa 1956-1986 (Creation)
Name of creator
John Beltrán was born in Guanabacoa, Cuba. He went to Costa Rica in September 1961 as a Cuban exile. He also lived in Nicaragua for a short period of time. In February 1962, he flew to New York where he lived through 1969. From 1969 to 1972, Beltrán was established in Puerto Rico. Finally in 1972, he moved to Miami where he has been living to the present day.
John Beltrán, the collector, was a friend of Olga Guillot and began to collect material related to her since the beginning of Olga's career.
Name of creator
Olga Guillot was a Cuban singer and actress (born Oct. 9, 1922, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba—died July 12, 2010, Miami Beach, FL) who was known as “la reina del bolero.” Guillot’s career spanned over fifty years, during which time she recorded in excess of sixty bolero albums and appeared in more than 20 Mexican films, as well as making numerous television appearances. She garnered countless awards and honors; for example, she won three consecutive awards as Cuba’s best female singer and in 2007 she was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Latin Grammy Awards. Guillot also pushed boundaries by becoming the first Latin American artist to give a gala concert at Carnegie Hall in New York - bringing bolero to a huge non-Spanish speaking audience - and also toured internationally.
Guillot’s family lived in Santiago de Cuba until she was five years old, at which point they relocated to Havana. She first started performing at the age of nine and formed a duo with her sister, Ana Luisa, called “Dúo Hermanitas Guillot,” debuting on a radio show called La Corte Suprema del Arte (The Supreme Court of Art). Ana Luisa subsequently quit in 1940. In 1945, Guillot was discovered by the influential Facundo Rivero and later travelled to New York City to record her first album. She achieved fame in the U.S. in 1946 with her Spanish version of the song “Stormy Weather.” She got the opportunity to make her first record in 1954 after signing to an independent label and released “Miénteme,” composed by the Mexican bandleader Chamaco Domínguez, which was not only a hit throughout Latin America, but became the first gold-selling record by any Cuban singer; “Miénteme” became Guillot’s signature song. Guillot became infamous for her passionate, heartfelt, and dramatic way of telling stories via the ballad form, as well as reworking classic boleros sung from a masculine perspective to reveal a female voice and point of view. During her recording career, many of her records achieved gold or platinum status.
In 1961, after having strongly criticized Fidel Castro’s government, Guillot left Cuba for good and split her time between the U.S. and Mexico, although Mexico was her permanent country of residence. Guillot also had a house in Miami Beach and was very active in South Florida’s Cuban-American community. She died in 2010, leaving behind one daughter, Olga María Touzet-Guillot, who she had with the composer, René Touzet.