Sin Empezar: Daymé Arocena
April 26, 2016 12:59 PM   Subscribe

"Meet Daymé Arocena, the Afro-Latina singer taking cues from Selena and jazz greats alike" -- "Sin Empezar" ... "Madres" ... "Don't Unplug My Body".

Havana Cultura: Daymé Arocena: Jazz Singer (includes auto playing YT video.)
Daymé Arocena displays a rare combination of youthful energy and very adult composure. She has an easy laugh and irradiates warmth, yet the power of her voice and the articulateness of her speech would make you think that she’s much older than twenty-two.


“I have a very strong voice, to put it simply. But when I sing, I also want people to appreciate the beauty of nuance and subtlety. I think when I combine both strength and intelligence is when I achieve my actual style as a soloist,” reflects Dayme before breaking into a chant invoking Yemaya, the Yoruba deity of the sea.

REMEZCLA Interview: For Jazz Songstress Daymé Arocena, Music Will Help Mend US-Cuba Relations
“Selena and Whitney Houston were both people who illuminated me as a child. They were singers I looked up to a lot. My parents knew because when I got to the house I’d play cassettes from either Selena or Whitney Houston. I’d be there all day playing their songs!”

Later, when Arocena would study more music and music history, she would develop her interests and inspirations, digging deeper into singers whom she emulates in her own noisy jazz style, like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and of course, La Lupe.
Billboard: Havana's Daymé Arocena Bridges Gap Between Cuban & American Music
Daymé Arocena’s vocal repertoire encompasses scatting, Afro-Cuban chanting, scratchy-throated whispers, and a deep, gusty laugh.

On her cover of the classic “Cry Me A River” (not the Justin Timberlake track), the 22-year-old from Havana sings to a ritualistic rumba beat, her voice pouring liquid over hectic conga beats before breaking out in soulful celebration of the storied perfect combination of Cuban music and jazz. While U.S. and Cuban politicians currently struggle to find common ground, Arocena’s big voice finds harmony in the two countries’ shared musical history.
posted by Celsius1414 (5 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Caught her when she came thru Oakland a few weeks back. She was fantastic live, seemed wiser beyond her years, and had the most infectious laugh. Would love to see Arocena and her fellow Cuban musicians get more traction in the States now that Cuban and American relations are improving.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 9:08 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Neat! Her joy in performing was really evident and a delight to see.

'Don't Unplug My Body' had some great verbal somersaults in the middle--I'm not a jazz person so I'm just going to take a stab and call it scatting--that were just fun. 'Madres' was such a great example of the swirl of influences in caribe culture, including a teeny bit of call and response and of course the subject of the song itself, and I loved it.

Thanks for sharing, Celsius1414.
posted by librarylis at 9:28 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

there was also a great interview with arocena on npr :P
Now that the relationship between the United States and her home country is changing, Arocena says her main hope for Cuban performers is simple: information.

"In Cuba we don't get enough information from the world," she says. "Everyone outside — what they are doing, what they are playing, how the people are producing. We need to exchange blood. We need to see the people outside Cuba — how they produce, how they work. And they have to see what we are doing in Cuba, and what we are playing, what we are creating — that we are not still in the '50s playing songs or Latin jazz. I am not the star; I am not a god — I am just a person. Cuba is a country with 11 million of persons! Come on, we need to be out, the people have to see us!"
(bonus at 2:50 where she sings a bit of whitney houston's 'i will always love you' ;)
posted by kliuless at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

New Tiny Desk Concert with Daymé.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:52 AM on May 13, 2016

Cubans are notoriously nonplussed about jazz in Cuba, they have it in the tourist areas, but you don't see it much anywhere else. I did find it a bit strange that a country in which music is so deeply ingrained didn't have much time for jazz. Most forms of music in Cuba have soloing, but it's not jazz. Cuban musicians outside of Cuba have made Latin Jazz synonymous with Cuba, so it's easy for Cuban bands to tour outside the country playing jazz. Probably easier than it would be touring inside the country, were it not for the fact that all musicians are guaranteed income in Cuba as long as they are in recognised bands. I would imagine that there is some mandatory touring of the Casas de la Musica that are found in every town.

Anyway, having said that here is another nice bit of Latin Jazz from Cuba; Chicas de la Habana performing a ripping version of Manteca
posted by asok at 8:21 AM on May 20, 2016

« Older I have to read all of them, right?   |   Things are never quite as scary when you've got a... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments