Keys open a new life for Cuban-born Noybel Gorgoy

Asked what it was like to grow up in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio, Noybel Gorgoy talks of subsisting on rice and an invisible piano.

“We were what you would consider middle class. Both my parents worked and they also had other interests. But a lot of the time there was just no food to buy,” Gorgoy, 33, recalls during a conversation a couple of hours before taking the stage in Clint Holmes’ “Between the Lines” at the Palazzo Theater.

“So you could have money, but nothing to spend it on,” she continues. “Sometimes we had dinner of soup with rice, and rice for dessert.”

This was during a time known as the Special Period, when the breakup of the Soviet Union left Cuba in a prolonged economic crisis.

Despite the hardships, Gorgoy grew up in a family enriched by the arts. Her father, Noel, was a composer and guitarist for a prominent theater group in the family’s hometown. Her mother, Juanita, was a singer when not working for the government as an accountant.

Gorgoy also grew into a gifted artist, attending the School of Arts Pinar del Rio for vocal and music training. There she faced a different kind of challenge: too many students and too few pianos.

“So we would rotate. They told us, ‘In an hour, you will go, then another, then another,’ ” Gorgoy recalls.

Practicing at home also required a creative approach.

“At home, I didn’t have a piano to play, so I set up an area on our little kitchen table to study, with my music books open, imagining where the keys would be. I just had to study movements with my hands, so I could learn them for when I was playing a real piano.”

Her talent on the keys was evident when Gorgoy auditioned as the featured vocalist in Holmes’ show. Without being asked, she played a piano piece, sliding onto the bench next to the show’s music director, Christian Tamburr.

“She turns to Christian at the piano and asks if he knows a title in Spanish,” Holmes recalled. “Christian couldn’t come up with anything, so she says, ‘I’ll do it,’ and moves him off the piano and plays it herself.” The song was one Gorgoy had written herself, “Te Encontre (I Found You).”

That performance was more than enough to earn Gorgoy a spot in “Between the Lines,” Holmes’ autobiographical production at the Palazzo.

Moving gracefully, salsa-style, Gorgoy is featured on Holmes’ takes on John Mayer’s “Daughters,” Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and the Bill Withers’ classic “Lean On Me.” It’s a healthy complement of numbers for an artist whom Holmes first spotted just two weeks before her audition, when she was singing with bandleader Kenny Davidsen’s act at Tuscany Suites.

But Gorgoy has a long history in Las Vegas, dating to the production show “Havana Night Club,” which ran from 2004 to 2006 at the Stardust. Produced by Siegfried & Roy, the show introduced to Vegas artistic director Nicole “N.D.” Durr, who had connections to her native Cuba through the touring version of “Havana Night Club” and another touring production, “Lady Salsa.”

Gorgoy was touring in “Lady Salsa” in Germany when she was invited to join Durr’s new show in Vegas. Gorgoy said, “Yes,” which happened to be one of the few English words she knew at the time, and was part of the show’s ensemble for two years.

When the Stardust show closed, Gorgoy spent three months on another Durr production, a meandering project called “Raw Talent Live” at the Sahara. It was a key moment in Gorgoy’s development in Las Vegas.

“Then life really started. I realized I did not speak English well enough to be in a major, English-speaking gig,” says Gorgoy, who sought out vocal teacher Greg Enriquez to intensively develop on her language skills. “I had to work really hard on pronunciation so I could sing properly, mingle with people, all of that.”

Gorgoy left the Sahara show to join Latin percussion great Michito Sanchez in his raging salsa-dance production “Salsero” at the South Point. Through that show, she learned of a gypsy-jazz band of great artistic merit, the Hot Club of Las Vegas. Seeing that band perform one night at the Bootlegger Bistro led to a first-time gig four days later, and then a permanent position as that band’s singer.

Aside from her performances with Hot Club, too infrequent to be considered full-time employment, Gorgoy picked up gigs with any reputable act that needed a singer. She also danced some, working at the Bank nightclub at Bellagio, saying, “I needed to use my dancing skills to feed myself,” when life happened once more: Her father died after slipping down a flight of stairs at home in Cuba.

“This was a month before he was supposed to move to the U.S.,” Gorgoy recalls, chuckling as if to push back the pain of that memory.

Her father’s funeral in 2013 was Gorgoy’s most recent visit to Cuba.

“After that, I took a moment to travel, to find myself again,” says Gorgoy, who today is engaged to onetime “Le Reve” artist Chris Tollette. “I was with Hot Club, recording a CD, and was in a Cuban production called ‘Ballet Revolucion’ in London for around three weeks. I was doing all kinds of stuff when Clint called.”

Performing at the lavish Palazzo Theater is something of an embarrassment of riches for Gorgoy, who describes her home country as “A lost-in-time place, where everything looks like the late ’50s with old American and Russian cars that are still running, somehow,” she says. “To be here, with all the opportunities, is still shocking to me.”

And when the inspiration to create strikes her now, Gorgoy is free to make music at home. As she says, “I own a piano now.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday in the A section and Friday in Neon. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on KUNV-FM, 91.5, and appears at 11 a.m. Wednesday with Dayna Roselli on KTNV-TV, Channel 13. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter and @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like