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Dayme one of Cuba's "most inviting ambassadors"

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Thursday May 26, 2016

From L.A. Times
By August Brown

Daymé Arocena brings exultant Afro-Cuban rumba to Eagle Rock

When Daymé Arocena took the stage on Monday night for her Los Angeles debut, the 22-year-old looked resplendent in a white dress and matching headwrap. The backing band for the Havana singer and composer was already out in front of her at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, winding up to play her regal song “Madres” and begin a tour of contemporary rumba and ambitious Afro-Cuban jazz.

But at her first notes, a wave of bass feedback overwhelmed the church-sized venue for a moment.

Arocena gripped the mic, grinned and slyly led her band through it. “That’s all the spirits trying to play with me,” she joked. It seemed as if the room wasn’t built to contain a voice that big.

As the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. thaws after generations of estrangement, the dialogue between the two countries is sure to only deepen. Cuba’s contributions to American jazz, Caribbean traditional styles and the Afro-pop diaspora are well noted. The island nation’s contemporary music world is less well known here, though, and Arocena is one of its most inviting ambassadors.

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