A sultry, island melody
Remember that moment in the hilariously underrated ensemble comedy Tropic Thunder when Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) — a white Australian actor who puts on black face paint to play an African-American war hero — defends real-life Australian actor Paul Hogan of Crocodile Dundee as "a national treasure?"
The moment was played for laughs in part because the idea of any entertainer (let alone Paul Hogan) being a country's revered national treasure is highly unlikely. Singer and dance Omara Portuondo, however, is that rare gem and we will all be richer that her native Cuba has lent her to Houston for an appearance tonight at Jones Hall.
Now 80 years-old, Portuondo has been performing on stage with famed Cuban ensembles Orquesta Anacaona and Cuarteto d'Aida, as well as American icons like Nat King Cole, since 1950. She is perhaps best known as the female lead vocalist of the Grammy-winning and much heralded Buena Vista Social Club.
Chances are if you have ever heard the song, "Guantanamera" than you have heard the sultry, island melody that Portuondo uses to enchant a strong, percussion beat.
If you have never seen her perform, I would suggest doing so. Short of a United Nations briefing or a successful military coup, it's not often one gets a chance to engage another country's national treasure.
8 p.m. Friday at Jones Hall
Tickets: Call 713-227-4772.