LISTEN: Ana Macho Covers Willie Colón’s Classic “El Gran Varón”

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.
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A classic by Willie Colón is getting re-imagined by a queer artist. Puerto Rican singer Ana Macho teamed up with acclaimed podcast La Brega to put out their cover of “El Gran Varón,” released today (Mar. 28).

WNYC Studios and Futuro’s La Brega podcast returned for a second season this year. In tandem with the podcast’s return, La Brega revisits Puerto Rican anthems with a new wave of artists from the island and the Boricua diaspora. The first of the six new covers was released last week. Remezcla highlighted Xenia Rubinos’ R&B take on “Preciosa” in the most recent weekly staff picks. Rafael Hernandez wrote that song before Marc Anthony later popularized it.

Macho is the next artist to collaborate with La Brega for this special project. They identify as trans and non-binary. Last year, Macho released their breakthrough EP Realismo Mágico. Now, they are tackling the song “El Gran Varón” by Willie Colón. It’s important to note that Omar Alfanno wrote the song in 1986 about a queer person’s relationship with their machista father. “I really wanted to make it feel like a song that a queer person in the ‘80s might hear,” Macho said in a statement. 

The singer is excited to record “El Gran Varón” from the perspective of a person with “una cuerpa trans queer.” They eschew the salsa music of the original for a synth-pop version that sounds very 1980s. Macho digs deep to deliver an emotional performance that recalls the sad story of Simón dying alone in a hospital. Their retro take on the classic feels like an empathetic tribute to all the people who passed away from the AIDs epidemic during that era. 

The EP of all La Brega’s covers will be released on April 11. RaiNao, ÌFÉ, Balún, La Tribu de Abrante, Mireya Ramos, and Velcro MC will also be included on the project. 

Listen to Ana Macho’s cover of “El Gran Varón” below.