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Wednesday May 09, 2018

From The Walker Art Center

Daymé Arocena: All Saints’ Day
By: Terrell LaMarr

Her band assumed the stage first. Three young men from Havana, clad in black, found their places behind the piano, bass, and drums, respectively. Daymé Arocena ascended the stairs dressed in the all-white of a santera, a single dread peeking out from beneath her matching white head wrap. She removed her shoes and left them at the edge of the stage—she needed to be comfortable and, wielding a voice like hers, even the most nimble could be knocked off balance by the force. Given her attire, the removal of her shoes almost felt religious: this was a ceremony, after all.

It would be reductive to say that Daymé Arocena is a natural performer. The raw talent has always been there, evidenced by the facts that she began attending one of Cuba’s most prestigious music academies at just nine years old, and that by 14 she had become the lead singer of a big band called Los Primos. Yet and still nature simply does not make them this good. It is difficult to imagine how much work went into Arocena becoming the performer we witnessed on this night. Perhaps her greatest strength is the way that emotion pours from her. All of her emotes. Her face, her eyes, her smile, her arms as she dances…and then, of course, there is the voice. By the time she reaches the final few lines of “Como” and exclaims “este amor me va matar (this love is going to kill me),” it feels as if it just might.

Read more of the glowing review here