Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena is leading a charge of musicians who reimagine rumba, bolero, and bachata by incorporating contemporary jazz, soul, salsa, hip-hop, and funk. She blends the rhythmic nuances of Celia Cruz, the emotional heft of Aretha Franklin, and the social conscience of Nina Simone.
A warm, dynamic voice and a personality to match.”
— NPR World Café
To be fearless of failure is to be a force for forward momentum. In the nexus of can-do creativity and cultural vibrancy that is her native Cuba, vocalist Daymé Arocena is leading a charge of musicians who reimagine rumba, bolero, bachata, and changüí by incorporating contemporary jazz, soul, salsa, hip-hop, and funk. Blending the rhythmic nuances of Celia Cruz, the emotional heft of Aretha Franklin, and the social conscience of Nina Simone, Arocena performs with “the expression of a virtuoso…pushing each song toward gleefully unexpected places” (The New York Times).
Raised in Havana, Arocena began singing at age 8 and, by 14, was performing in clubs across Havana as frontwoman for the band Los Primos. The title of Arocena’s solo debut album, 2015’s Nueva Era, symbolically represented a resumption of normalized relationships with the nearby United States. Her latest album, Cubafonía, pens a love letter to the numerous cultures on which, and singular country in which, she was raised—everything from a crescendo of Crescent City horns and Cuban polyrhythms on “Mambo Na’ Ma” to pop that Pitchfork said “sits between Sade and Selena” on the soulful ballad “Como.” As an initiate of the Santería religion, Arocena also thoughtfully explores inseparable connections between her creative output and her faith, and the increasing confidence it gives her as a performer. By following la musa wherever it may take her, Arocena has quickly become one of Cuba’s most inviting cultural ambassadors.
6:30PM / CARNAHAN HALL
Join the artist, Daymé Arocena, for a moderated discussion on the evening’s performance.