Cuba's Jazz Phenomenom

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Monday June 19, 2017

From Vibe

Meet Daymé Arocena: Cuba’s Jazz Phenomenon Fusing Salsa, Hip-Hop And Neo-Soul
By: Marjua Estevez

Daymé Arocena is a singing drum. Her mouth blooms a litany of ethereal chants, a sacred devotion as impeccable as her white assembles against her molasses skin’“traditional garb in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. She moves in the world the way she moves on any stage: swaying hips and wagging fingers, building a quiet momentum that emerges a thunderclap woman, who carries both Celia Cruz and Aretha Franklin in her heart.

Music ‘” her truest god ‘” has been Arocena’s calling since the tender age of four, performing on blocks across her native island. By age 14, she was a principal singer of Los Primos, a prestigious band in Cuba. Upon being brought to light by a BBC broadcaster under the Havana Cultura initiative, and inking a deal with Brownswood Recordings, the 25-year-old released her debut album, Nueva Era, circa June 2015. Arocena ‘” a fervent disciple of Beethoven and Nina Simone, of La Lupe and Marta Valdés ‘” released her Cubafonia album earlier this year, proving Cuba’s a rich musical trove.

Ahead of her performance at the Highline Ballroom in New York this Saturday (June 17), the singer talks all things music. Connecting her love of jazz and hip-hop back to the Southern region of the United States, where rappers and musicians alike have significant tethers in the ‘Afro-Christian Church,’ Arocena proclaims the Empire City a cultural mecca in which her power is renewed.

Get acquainted…

VIBE Viva: As a black Cuban woman musician, what is your greatest struggle?
Daymé Arocena: I think the hardest part is ‘to talk with your own voice.’ But, if you can do that, and people around are listening and following you, then you feel like a winner. Every single person in the world has their own war, especially if you have something different to say. It doesn’t really matter for me about being black and woman, but that doesn’t mean it’s not more difficult for black women, especially if you have something new to say.

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