Dayme Arocena. Photo courtesy of the artist.

4 Artists Preserving Santería, Kumina & Yoruba Religion Through Their Music

Acts like Ibeyi, Daymé Arocena, Zara McFarlane and Sibusile Xaba are creating spaces for spirituality and religion in their songs.

Contemporary African music does a great job at mirroring the vibrant culture that inspires it. A cross section of its genres will mirror the dominant themes in the lives of Africans, from the infectious dance rhythms of gqom and afrobeats fertilizing the joy in celebration to the soulful meditation of desert rock or Ethio-jazz for pensive days. One aspect of current African music that's quite apparent but often minimized is the space it has created for spirituality and religion.

Over the past few years, artists such as Ibeyi, Daymé Arocena, Sibusile Xaba, Zara McFarlane and many others have etched a major conduit for the flow or spiritual energy through contemporary and popular music. They define their work by various religious and spiritual practices such as Yoruba, Kumina and Santeria. Music is one of the few ways through which you learn about indigenous African traditions as the intricacies of these doctrines are largely overshadowed and eroded by the rapid growth of Islam and Christianity. But what are the ways in which these musicians are instrumentalizing their spirituality and how is it preserving the culture?

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