I landed this piece in Public Radio International (PRI’s The World) for Cuban songstress Daymé Arocena in advance of her Summer tour in the US. Check it out in full here!
“My link with Santería is more musical,” she says. “I fell in love with Santería music before the religion.” She’s a classical composer and director trained in Havana. Her parents and grandmother practiced Santería, so she grew up around the religion, but never paid attention to it herself. Then, she entered a music contest.
“I was looking for making something interesting, and Cuban and pure,” she says, “to mix Cuban influences with classical music. And it was the moment that I discovered the treasure of Santería’s music.”
“Eleggua,” her new single, encapsulates that treasure, and Arocena’s distinctly Cuban style of modern jazz: A pounding bassline drives the song into a sometimes chaotic melody, paired with strident keys, and sometimes angelic, joined by otherworldly choir singers.“