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Afro-Cuban Singer Daymé Arocena Channels Jazz & Santería In ‘Gods Of Yoruba’

Daymé Arocena premieres “Gods of Yoruba,” an enlivening cover of Horace Silver that blends jazz with Afro-Cuban instrumentation.

Daymé Arocena. Image courtesy of the artist.


Daymé Arocena is what one might call a musical prodigy. The Cuban vocalist began her career at the age of 8, and has been fronting Cuba’s Los Primos band since she was 14. The singer, now 24, is showing no sign of slowing down.

Today, she premieres her latest single “Gods of Yoruba,” an enlivening cover of Horace Silver that blends cool jazz with bustling Afro-Cuban instrumentation.

The track is relaxing and electrifying all at once as Arocena’s chant-like vocals flow over scattered horns and a rapid bass-line. Her singing is subdued as the 8-minute tune transforms into an airy arrangement complete with a polished piano solo and free-form drumming.

"Gods of Yoruba is the perfect mix between my jazzy mood and my spiritual Santería songs,” the singer tells Okayafrica. “It doesn't have any lyrics to hold your mind; you can fly and get connected with the sky: Open heart!”

Listen to the track below and catch Daymé Arocena on her European tour this month, dates are listed beneath.

The singer's upcoming One Takes EP re-imagines six songs, "ranging from Italian obscurities to US house heroes," and is set to drop on May 6 on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings.

Daymé Arocena Tour Dates

April 3, New Parish, Oakland USA

April 13, Cully Jazz Festival, Switzerland

April 14, Monk Club, Rome

April 15, Biko Club, Milan

April 20, AB Club, Brussels

April 21, Rich Mix, London

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Courtesy of the artist

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We talk to the artist about leaving London, being a migrant and resisting Germany's resurgent fascist movement.

A German TV channel recently announced a TV debate on whether Germans should still be allowed to say the N-word.

One of the announced panelists was Frauke Petry, the former leader of the AfD—a German far-right party that recently got 14 percent of the vote in local elections. Petry openly called for the return of Nazi-era terminology in public. This issue might have remained hidden for anglophones if it wasn't for the British writer, poet and activist Musa Okwonga who called out the TV channel on his Twitter account. Eventually, they cancelled the show.

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Via CONIFA

At This World Cup, Players Risk Imprisonment to Compete

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Barawa FA, named after the port city of Barawa in southern Somalia, represents the Tunni and Bravanese people who live there, but it also represents the wider Somali diaspora in the United Kingdom. So, even though the tournament will be played in England, this will be the most African ConIFA competition to date, with not only an African member hosting and heading the organizing committee, but with two other African teams taking part in the competition: Matabeleland and Kabylia.

This will be the largest edition of the ConIFA World Cup so far, with 16 teams playing in 10 stadiums—seven in Greater London, two in Berkshire and one in Essex. In contrast, the previous edition, held in Abkhazia—a separatist region of Georgia—in 2016, featured 12 teams in two stadiums; while the inaugural edition, held in Lapland—a region encompassing parts of northern Sweden, northern Norway, northern Finland and north-western Russia inhabited by the Sami people—in 2014, only featured one stadium and 12 teams. It will also feature the largest number of African teams so far, as only two participated in 2014 (Darfur and Zanzibar) and 2016 (Somaliland and Chagos Islands).

The tournament has also raised its profile. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power announced it will be sponsoring the tournament, probably seizing the opportunity to take bets on the tournament, which will occur between the end of national European leagues and the beginning of the FIFA World Cup in mid-June.

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Photo by Farah Sosa.

Here's What Amplify Africa's Inaugural Afro Ball Looked Like

The awards event was a celebration of excellence and ambition in the African community.

On Saturday, May 19, the Los Angeles Theater Center in downtown LA became a mecca for idealists and dreamers from the African diaspora.

The casual passersby would've been greeted with an effusion of bold prints, intricate headwraps and color coordination—the likes of which had not been seen since their favorite 90s music video (or church, or a wedding for some of us). And though the festivities might have vaguely resembled a film set—as is all too common downtown—this moment wouldn't be rehashed months later in a movie or television show. Attendees were flocking to Amplify Africa's inaugural Afro Ball. With the support of BET International, Buzzfeed, OkayAfrica, the GEANCO Foundation and more, Afro Ball lived up to its name as a "for Africans, by Africans" awards event, celebrating excellence and ambition in our community.

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