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This engagement of Daymé Arocena is made possible through Southern Exposure: Performing Arts of Latin America, a program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
Cuba is one of the most creative places on the planet, gifting the world with an occasional superstar from its musical homeland. Today, that gift is singer-composer Daymé Arocena. With exceptional warmth and a powerful presence to augment her virtuosity, Arocena is one of the “most inviting ambassadors” for Cuba’s contemporary music. Santerían chant, rhythmic complexity, fluid jazz styling, and a nuanced Afro-Cuban soulfulness—Arocena channels the elements in service to her audience and culture.
Ms. Arocena unites cosmopolitan musicianship with deep roots.
—New York Times
Arocena’s talent was recognized during the Havana Cultura Mix project, which saw French-born English DJ and record producer Gilles Peterson mentoring selected producers from around the world to record in Cuba with local musicians. After Peterson invited Arocena to perform at an album launch in London, where she enchanted a packed audience, her star began to shine. By May 2016, Arocena had released her third album, One Takes, featuring Horace Silver’s powerful “Gods of Yoruba” among a collection of masterfully reimagined rare covers that further bridged her musical worlds. With this release, Arocena’s impact upon the unfolding history of Cuban music is unmistakably underway.
Arocena’s newest album, Cubafonia, is a soulful mix of Latin, jazz, and R&B influences—a perfect blend for her powerful vocals. NPR featured the 2017 album in First Listen: “There is not a dull moment on Cubafonía. It is a major statement on the progress of Daymé Arocena as an artist for the ages. And it reminds us that the best music moves the body and the spirit.”
When she sang, she had a beaming, irrepressible smile, the expression of a virtuoso who knew she was pushing each song toward gleefully unexpected places.
This Cuban soul singer is on fire right now, burning up the stages wherever she plays. With her strong and powerful voice, she’s reigniting the Cuban soundtrack.