Guillermo Portabeles’ “El Carretero” lyric video premieres; album to be reissued on vinyl for the first time ever via World Circuit Records on 10/4




photo courtesy of World Circuit Records


World Circuit Records is reissuing El Carretero, the definitive collection of Guillermo Portabales’ classic ’60s recordings, on October 4. Originally compiled and released in 1996, it is now remastered and available on vinyl for the first time, alongside new CD & digital formats. 

Today World Circuit presents a visual interpretation of title track ‘El Carretero,’ which brings to life the album’s artwork illustrations created by illustrator Linda Scott for the original release in 1996, and features both the Spanish and translated English lyrics to this timeless guajira classic. Watch the animated lyric video for “El Carretero’ at

Guillermo Portabales was a unique performer of the Cuban guajira rhythm, whose distinctive voice and guitar style helped define and popularize the easy swaying style. Born in Cuba, Portabales’ music went on to become hugely popular in both North and South America and more recently in West Africa; ‘El Carretero,’ one of his most famous songs, has been covered by a variety of artists including Senegalese artists Orchestra Baobab and Cheikh Lô. His music also had a significant influence on the artists who eventually came together as Buena Vista Social Club, with a rendition of ‘El Carretero’ featuring on their eponymous album.

The word that people associate with Guillermo Portales—guajira—is much more than a musical style. It defines the people, the life and the music of rural Cuba, especially the center of the island where large numbers of immigrants from the Canary Islands brought with them the roots of an incredible tradition of improvised verses set to music.

Guillermo Portabales created his own version of the guajira, slowing down the rhythm and accentuating the melody, adding lyrics that reflected the world that guajiro poets described in their punto verses. Portabales’ style, which became known as ‘guajira de salon,’ is still popular throughout Latin America, partly because nostalgia for country life is something that still pervades the soul of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia and other countries in the region.


Since forming in London in the mid-1980s, World Circuit Records has made its reputation by producing some of the finest albums of the past three decades. The label is best known for the Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club album, which is the biggest selling world music album of all time and has contributed to the phenomenal rise in popularity of Cuban, as well as Latin American, music. The Buena Vista series continued with solo albums from the Grammy-winning Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, Rubén González, Guajiro Mirabal and innovative albums from Cachaíto López and Angá Díaz, which took Cuban music into the new millennium and beyond. Watch the World Circuit Records trailer HERE.

World Circuit is also home to a number of revered African artists. Malian blues pioneer Ali Farka Touré’s classic Grammy-winning Talking Timbuktu album, recorded with Ry Cooder, brought the label early international acclaim. Malian divas and social activists Oumou Sangaré and Fatoumata Diawara, master kora player Toumani Diabaté, the illustrious Orchestra Baobab and musical iconoclast Cheikh Lô have all established themselves as major stars across the globe. Tony Allen, Fela Kuti’s legendary drummer, co-creator of Afrobeat and founding member of The Good The Bad and The Queen joined the label in 2009 and continues to pioneer new African music. 

Expanding their orbit far beyond Cuba & West Africa, the label released the breakthrough debut album Rumba Argelina by Spanish group Radio Tarifa in 1996. Rumba Argelina rocketed them to cult fame with its fusion of flamenco and Arabian sounds, placing them firmly on the map of world music innovators.  Mbongwana Star scattered any traditional notions of Congolese music on their experimental and thrilling 2015 debut From Kinshasa. With further reissues and brand new releases to come in 2020, World Circuit continues to bring diverse, genre-defying music to a wider audience. Check out the World Circuit playlist HERE.


About Velton 701 Articles
Velton Hayworth is a professional photographer and blogger. Velton loves to cover the nightlife and entertainment scene. Follow Velton on Twitter @ILoveFtWorth