Eliades Ochoa Bustamente was born on June 22, 1946. His birthplace, La Loma de la Avispa is located in Songo la Maya, a municipality in Santiago de Cuba province.As a self taught musician, he began to play guitar at the age of 6. His parents had a rural upbringing and were popular musicians with no formal training. His father Aristónico Ochoa and his mother both played the tres guitar (an autochthonous Cuban instrument).
He grew older surrounded by sones montunos and guarachas just like his brothers, who played the guitar and sang popular tunes too. He was raised in Cuban countryside. When he was a boy, he often attended guateques (traditional parties in Eastern Cuba) and listened to people’s anecdotes of that time. All of these experiences led him to develop a completely self-taught art expression with a clearly recognizable style that has allowed him to become a composer and an arranger of his own songs.
He joined the traditional music group Quintento de la Trova and, later, Septeto Típico Oriental. That year, the well-known night club Casa de la Trova, in Santiago de Cuba, admitted him as a regular performer at the venue.After receiving an invitation by Francisco Cobas “Pancho”, founder of the Vieja Trova Santiaguera, he joined Cuarteto Patria. Once in the group, Ochoa assimilated the quartet’s repertory and mixed it with his own personal style. By using his expressive resources, he demonstrated a profound devotion for Cuban music. He showed an introspective capacity and his style brought a new touch of originality to the group.
He received a Grammy Award in the category Best Tropical Music Album for Buena Vista Social Club. This project brought together American musicians Ry and Joachim Cooder with outstanding Cuban musicians such as Juan de Marcos, Rubén González, Raúl Planas, Compay Segundo, Pío Leyva, Ibrahim Ferrer, Manuel Licea (Puntillita), and Manuel Mirabal (El guajiro). In addition, they received several gold and platinum record awards for this album. He and the other members of Buena Vista Social Club were nominated to an Academy Award for the homonymous film, directed by Wim Wenders and produced by Ry Cooder.
Malian artists Toumani Diabaté, Bassekou Kouyate, Kasse Mady Diabaté, Djelimady Tounkara, Fode Lassana Diabaté and Baba Sissoko recorded with Ochoa the album Afrocubism, selected by National Geographic Magazine as “the best album in the world”. This musical production was originally conceived in 1996 but the Malian artists could not come to Cuba that year due to logistic reasons. Then, the project was developed with the name of Buena Vista Social Club and it included only Cuban musicians. Finally, in 2010, the old musical dream could come true.
Eliades Ochoa has released more than 20 albums that compile classical songs of the trova santiaguera. His records have been licensed by labels such as Corason, Virgin, EGREM an Bis Music. Besides, he has contributed with more than 30 albums of other relevant musicians.
Cuban rhythms have travelled with him worldwide. He has wowed audiences in Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Guadalupe, Martinica, Grenade, Curazao, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Columbia, Puerto Rico, United States and beyond.