Music is my destiny
At only 24, Daymé Arocena has already made two albums and toured to London, Paris, Canada and the USA, wowing audiences with her astonishing vocal range and a versatility that segues easily from jazz standards to timba, prayer music to soul. For some such a heady ascent could prove dizzying, but this young woman from Havana has her feet firmly on the ground. Music is simply what she has always done, from when she was a tiny tot clutching a deodorant bottle for a microphone. “I started singing because I was born,” she says, flashing her huge smile. “When I sing it's as if I am no longer there. Music is a presence that moves me backwards and forwards.”
Growing up in a musical family, she drank in influences from everywhere: the Cuban sounds of the street, jazz standards from the big band she played with, the classical training of the conservatoire and her deep faith in santeria, the Cuban religion that traces its roots back to Africa. It is as if, in her person and her voice, she encapsulates all that Cuba is, taking influences from everywhere and mixing it into something new, intoxicating, original and authentic. “My music is honest, deep, Cuban, folkoric, classical, jazz, just music…. My music!” she laughs.
Recording the Havana Cultura sessions was, she says, “one of the best things that has happened in my life” because of the chance to mix and share experiences with other musicians. What she created is a journey, from the spiritual, mysterious Madre, a 7-minute-long prayer to her saint that soars and whispers, implores and celebrates, to Don't unplug my body, where pure soul meets rhythmic scat and rumba. Sit back and let yourself be transported by the softness and power of this woman in white who's going where destiny takes her.