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Ignacio Jacinto Villa Fernandez (a.k.a. Bola de Nieve) was born on September 11th, 1911, in Guanabacoa municipality.

He was the son of Domingo and Ines, a couple with a very humble origin. But Ignacio had music in his veins, for her mother used to organized parties at her place. Since he was a little child, Ignacio Jacinto loved and preferred music, being his favorite instruments the guitar and the flute.

In 1927 he was admitted at MateurConservatory. Some time later, he did the same at the Music Academy of Guanabacoa, where he increased his knowledge in the disciplines of theory, singing of scales and piano, under the direction of Professor
Gerardo Delgado Guanche.

A year later, he was admitted at the Elementary Teachers Training School, which was closed due to the students'riots taking place due the ruling tyranny of the then President of Cuba, Gerardo Machado.

In order to survive, he started to play the piano, an instrument of which he had so very little knowledge. However this, he accompanied the interpreters who performed at the Canal movies theater, located in his birth town. Besides this, he carried
out other activities to help his family.

The silent motion pictures that were shown in the above-mentioned movies were accompanied by the intrepid and insipid musician to whom the kids shouted him Bola-ball- from the stands, after watching his totally shaved head. Some time later, he began to accompany his lifetime friend, Rita Montaner, who baptised him with the pseudonym of Bola de Nieve -Snow Ball.

The couple made by Rita Montaner & Bola de Nieve was a big success. They left for Mexico, D.F., performing, for the first time, in the luxurious Polieteama, located in the capital of this nation, receiving the welcome of the audience.

After having performed in excellent stages of Mexico, in 1993, "La Unica" -The Unique, the way Rita Montaner was called- decided to come back to her homeland. However, Bola de Nieve, preferred to remain to all what shone and was worth to in the Aztec country, accompanying the maestro Ernesto Lecuona, who convinced him to return with him to Cuba and become part of his already famous company.

Bola didn't think it twice and he soon joined Lecuona. As soon as they arrived to Cuba, they fully focused on performing in theaters and the radio; besides the recordings that he loved so much to do. Later on, both, Lecuona and Bola made different tours by Buenos Aires, Paris, Madrid, Caracas, New York, and other big cities.

Being alone, Bola took part in two motion pictures shot in Argentine and, in 1947, he left for Spain. He also travelled to the United States, doing a very important performance in Philadelphia. That was by September, 1948. There, the audience
applauded him with frenzy, something that made him show up nine times to the stage.

In 1949, Bola came back to Cuba and began to work at the Tropicana cabaret. That's where I listened to him sing and play the piano for the first time. He performed night after night with so much personality and charisma, dressed in black or dark blue and wearing his inseparable little necktie. He played the piano in such a harmonious way and his voice had a highly emotive tone. He sang in several languages, with ease and grace. Bola was the perfect show-man himself.

By this time, Ignacio Jacinto was 38 years old. We should highlight that, with that age, he had carried out important activities in many parts of the world, above all, disc recordings, films and TV presentations.

Going back to his family life, we must say that Ignacio Villa, born in Guanabacoa, a Havana town, came from a very important musical tradition. From Guanabacoa came also other outstanding musical figures, like Rita Montaner and Ernesto Lecuona.

Some say that his mother was a fruitful and fertile black woman, who had thirteen sons. She was raised up amid congos and carabalies. She had the grace of the oral tradition and the talent of the tough dancer who danced up to dawn, either in a neighbor party or in an improvised rumba touches with sticks and cans. She was very gifted and always ready to dance the best wood box rumba or a religious musical ceremony to African goddess Yemaya. She was raised by her father, an African religion devote ñáñigo. Bola had many qualities and it was not something casual...He was a show himself...

During an interview that took place in Mexico, DF some months before Bola died, he said the following:

I don't know for sure whether I began to studying art by myself or if I was encouraged to do so; only I didn't have time to say: I want to become... I aspired to be a university student, when the revolution got here. That was when Machado was at the Presidency (the thirties) and, by that time, I was playing my piano. I knew something about music, had some knowledge on how to make popular music, which is the one Iove always done. But we had to eat, so I focused myself on playing the piano for the cinema, accompanying a female singer...

And, as Ignacio told, Rita Montaner found funny when she saw him so black and his head all shaved; so she called him in public, "Bola de Nieve". People liked this pseudonym and it was enough to preserve it.

I accompanied Rita, because she had no other who did it at that moment; but I didn't do it with the purpose of becoming a soloist or something like that. I did all that at a time nobody knew me, without knowing if what I was doing was right, wrong
or so-so... if I was a true artist or not. I was just Rita Montaner's piano man, just that. We went to Mexico, and I kept being Rita's piano man and, just there, "Bola de Nieve"became popular.

That's how Ignacio Villa defined his life within Art. He was gifted with all the qualities of a devoted artist which he expressed by his way of saying and doing. Unfortunately, he lived a short life; though he left us an eternal memory of what
an artist can do on stage, when he delivers himself, the way he did, with a big and kind heart.

During the sixties, "Bola de Nieve" remained working in the exquisite restaurant "Monsegnor"located on the corner of 21st and O streets, in Vedado district. We should underscore that the already famous interpreter delighted all the fellow dinners of such restaurant with his rich repertoire, based on Cuban and foreign songs.

Source: Cubarte

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