Audio

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

Interview

Angelique Kidjo Writes a Love Letter to 'Mother Nature'

We talk to the Beninese musical icon about assembling her new album on Zoom and the "bigger than COVID-19" threat that lies ahead!

The kind of infectious energy that lives within Angelique Kidjo can't be contained by Zoom. Her zest for life reaches out far beyond any screen, and burns stronger than the fastest internet connection.

"I can't wait until we're in person hugging again," she enthuses soon after joining our Zoom meeting to discuss her latest album Mother Nature. Having been on the receiving end of a hug from the four-time Grammy-winning singer, I know exactly what I'm missing out on. "Me too," I say, as I wrap my arms around my laptop, my face squishing the screen. "No, no," she retorts. "I don't want that. You keep it. I want the real deal," she chuckles, her full-bodied trademark laughter lovingly admonishing me.

The Benin-born musician is preparing to release Mother Nature, a collection of songs reflecting our one Earth, and cementing her status as an African musical icon. Collaborating with the likes of Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Burna Boy, Sampa the Great, Shungudzo and more, Kidjo's crossing through time and space, over age and country through Mother Nature's themes and stories. Each track is infused with a vigor that only she possesses — the kind that shares a significant message even as the listener is called to just dance or sing along.

Below, Angelique Kidjo reminisces about making the album, and chats us through her hopes and dreams for it!

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