Before reading this book I knew of only two other all-women bands. One was The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, a swinging big band in America during the Second World War; the other was the immortal, if fictional, Sweet Sue’s Syncopators in the film Some Like It Hot. The Cuban band Anacaona is a worthy addition to this short and exclusive list, more remarkable in that it was made up of eleven sisters.
Alicia Castro, who tells their story, was born in 1920. Her parents, ten sisters and two brothers lived in Lawton, the old tobacco workers’ district in Havana. Her father was Chinese, the son of one of thousands of workers recruited to work on the sugar plantations in the nineteenth century.