Despite a career spanning decades, Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer rose to world fame late in life, as part of the Buena Vista Social Club project.
Ibrahim Ferrer was a master of the traditional bolero and son styles
A master of the traditional son and bolero styles, Ferrer began singing professionally at the age of 14 and was a member of several well-known groups.
But it was joining Buena Vista in the 1990s that took him from a retirement shining shoes to international renown.
He died, aged 78, after returning ill from a month-long tour of Europe.
Ferrer was born in 1927 in the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, an area known for its musical tradition.
Following his mother's early death he worked as a street vendor, forming his first group when he was in his early teens to entertain people in his neighbourhood.
Ferrer performed all over the world after winning fame in his 70s
He soon began to appear with various bands in Santiago and by the 1950s was a well-established figure on the Cuban music scene.
In 1957, Ferrer moved to the capital, Havana, to perform with the Cuban music legend Benny More.
He went on to play for years with Los Bocucos, a band he formed with singer Pacho Alonso.
But Ferrer had fallen into obscurity and was shining shoes to supplement his income when US guitarist Ry Cooder recruited him for the Buena Vista Social Club.
The 1997 record of the same name gave him an international reputation in his 70s, and led to numerous tours. The album won a Grammy award in 1998.
In 1999, a film directed by Wim Wenders was released, showing Ry Cooder's work with the group of veteran Cuban musicians.
After launching a solo career, Ferrer himself was awarded a Grammy for his salsa album Buenos Hermanos.
However, the Cuban artist was unable to attend the awards ceremony because the US refused to grant him a visa. He also won two Latin Grammys.
His latest European tour, showcasing boleros Ferrer planned to release in 2006, took him to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, France and Spain.
Two of his fellow Buena Vista stars, pianist Ruben Gonzalez and guitarist Compay Segundo, died in 2003. Ferrer leaves a widow, Caridad Diaz.