Havana Faculty: The Clive Davis Institute x Havana

Andres Levin

From the Teatro Nacional de Cuba to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, audiences have applauded GRAMMY® -winning producer, filmmaker, educator, and TEDxHabana co-creator Andres Levin’s dedication to expanding opportunities for Cuban artistry on stage and in the recording studio. 

Hailed by Americas Quarterly in 2015 as an “Arts Innovator” the vitality of la perla de las Antillas performing arts scene is Levin’s oxygen. With Cuban-American - GRAMMY® nominated singer and actress CuCu Diamantes, he founded the critically acclaimed band Yerba Buena. 

For over three decades Levin has lent his professional expertise and insight to a who’s who of notable artists including David Byrne, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony, Orishas, Caetano Veloso, John Legend, Miguel Bosé and Carlinhos Brown. In 2009, Levin’s work as a producer on the cast album for Broadway hit In The Heights resulted in a GRAMMY®. His TV and Film credits include Executive Music Producer on the legendary Cuban filmmaker Jorge Perugorría’s Se Vende and work on the soundtrack for Hotel Transylvania 2.

Whether at his Manhattan offices or his home studio in Havana, the island nation has graciously served as both muse and platform for Levin’s launch and oversight of a diverse range of projects in the entertainment industry, including conferences that celebrate ingenuity like TedxHabana, social-consciousness raising concerts such as Red Hot + Cuba, engrossing high energy films from Amor Crónico to Havana Motor Club, and decidedly original ventures for businesses including Bacardi’s Loud and Untamable.

Ned Sublette

Ned Sublette, author of the widely read Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo (Chicago Review Press, 2004), first traveled to Cuba in January 1990. He co-founded the record label Qbadisc, which in 1992 pioneered the marketing of the contemporary Cuban discography in the United States, and beginning in 1991, he collaborated with the labels Luaka Bop and World Pacific/Blue Note on key US releases of Cuban music.

Over the last 25 years, he has produced more than 150 episodes of the Peabody Award-winning public radio program Afropop Worldwide, and is a co-founder of Afropop Worldwide Hip Deep, which brings the work of scholars to a radio audience. He has reported for Afropop Worldwide from Cuba (including a multi-year 17-part “Cuban Connection” series), as well as from Angola, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Detroit, Miami, Lisbon, Salvador da Bahia, Caracas, and Barranquilla, among other places.

He is the co-author with Constance Sublette of The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry (Lawrence Hill Books, 2015). He is also the author of The Year Before the Flood (Lawrence Hill Books, 2009); and The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square (Lawrence Hill Books 2008).  

He has been a Patrick Henry Writing Fellow at the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland; a Guggenheim Fellow; a Tulane Rockefeller Humanities Fellow in New Orleans; a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library; a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in non-fiction literature; and is currently a research fellow at the Committee on Globalization and Social Change at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Throughout the 1980s, he led a band in New York City, performing semi-regularly at CBGB, the Lone Star Café, Tramps, the Pyramid Cocktail Lounge, Danceteria, and the Mudd Club, among many others. His song “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly,” composed in 1981, was recorded by Willie Nelson and released as a single in 2006. As a singer-songwriter, his albums include Kiss You Down SouthCowboy Rumba, Monsters from the Deep (with Lawrence Weiner) and Ships at Sea, Sailors and Shoes (with Lawrence Weiner and the Persuasions).