With the release of the Grammy-winning album Buena Vista Social Club and an acclaimed documentary of the same name, Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer vaulted from obscurity and poverty to international fame in the twilight of his life. He was born February 20, 1927, when his mother went into labor during a dance in the Cuban village of San Luis. By 12, Ferrer was an orphan, surviving by selling newspapers and produce on the street. He began his professional singing career at 14, joining his cousin's vocal group Los Jovenes del Son -- Ferrer later sang with acts including Conjunto Sorpresa, Maravilla de Beltrán, Beny Moré, and Electo Rosell's jazz group La Orquesta Chepín Chovén, with whom he scored the 1955 regional hit "El Platanal de Bartolo." He also sang with Pacho Alonso, whose Santiago-based group Los Bocucos relocated to Havana in 1959 in the wake of the Cuban Revolution -- Ferrer served with Alonso on and off for over three decades, during that time proving himself not only a master of the energetic, uptempo guarachas and sones but also a sublime bolero singer with an uncommon sense of space and silence.