Ibrahim Ferrer, 78, a leading voice with the hugely popular Buena Vista Social Club of vintage Cuban performers, died Aug. 6 at a hospital in Havana. The Montuno production company did not give a cause of death, but Mr. Ferrer's colleagues said he suffered from emphysema and was feeling ill earlier last week.
Known for his trademark cap and graying mustache, Mr. Ferrer was a wiry, animated figure who clearly enjoyed performing Cuba's traditional "son" music of the 1940s and 1950s for new generations of fans.
Mr. Ferrer was among the older Cuban performers recruited by U.S. musician Ry Cooder who performed on the "Buena Vista Social Club" album that won a Grammy, and he was among those appearing in the 1999 film of the same name.
Also in 1999, Mr. Ferrer was featured on "Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer," and he won a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist in 2000.
Two other well-known members of the original Buena Vista group, singer Compay Segundo and pianist Ruben Gonzalez, died in 2003.
Originally from Cuba's eastern city of Santiago, Mr. Ferrer was born Feb. 20, 1927, during a dance at a social club.
As a boy, he began singing professionally with Santiago groups in 1941. By the late 1950s, he was a well-known singer performing regularly with the late, great bandleader Pacho Alonso.
He also made guest appearances with other legendary names, including Beny More and Orquesta de Chepin.
Alonso's group moved to Havana in 1959, and Mr. Ferrer came along, remaining with the group for more than two decades. By the early 1980s, Mr. Ferrer had left the musical scene, but he came out of retirement to perform with the Buena Vista group.