Daymé Arocena

Dayme Arocena displays rare qualities of youthful energy combined with a mature composure. Although she has a light-hearted smile and radiates warmth, her powerful voice and articulate speech make it seem that she is much older than twenty two. Dayme, a native of Havana’s Diez de Octubre neighbourhood, demonstrates the importance of her upbringing in becoming the musician she is today. “Diez de Octubre has a significant Afro-Cuban influence. I was born in Cuba and have lived there my entire life. Dayme was a choir director in the music education system. Joaquin Betancourt mentored Dayme and she encouraged her to sing with Los Primos Big Band. She furthered her love for jazz by giving her the first standard, My Funny Valentine. It was handwritten on a piece of paper, and I was the first person to try something like this. Listening to other singers is a common way for singers to learn songs. Dayme started Alami, an all-girl jazz band, a few years ago. “Since I started playing jazz, I noticed that I was the only girl in the group. I thought, “What’s the deal with the women?” Three years ago, Alami was performing at Havana Jazz Plaza Festival when a strange spectator with a baritone-saxophone shouted, “Long Live women!” and joined them for an improv session. Alami was unknowingly on the same stage as Jane Bunnett, a Canadian jazz musician who had worked with Cuban musicians for many decades. Dayme was invited to Canada by Jane Bunnett, and they kept in touch. Jane Bunnet, Dayme, and other Cuban female jazz musicians created Maqueque. Gilles Peterson, BBC radio host and globetrotter, traveled to Havana in May 2014 to record original tracks with Cuban musicians. The producers attended an open mic session at Bertolt Brecht’s concert space to get familiar with the voices they would be working with. After a few acts, Dayme, a white-clad, naked Dayme, took to the stage and stole show. Gilles Peterson says, “She’s a total freak-out.” She could have performed that performance on any TV or radio station in the world!” Not just did she record four tracks, but she was also invited to London to perform at Havana Cultura Mix : The Soundclash album release. She also recorded a solo album for Peterson’s Brownswood label while she was there. It is expected to be released in early 2015. To put it simply, I have a strong voice. When I sing, I want people to be able to appreciate the beauty and subtlety of my voice. Dayme says, “I think when I combine strength and intelligence is where I achieve my true style as a soloist,” before breaking into a chant to invoke Yemaya the Yoruba goddess of the sea. from

Leave a Comment