Female Afro-Cuban jazz power duo OKAN is streaming a performance with live Q&A after on Flushing Town Hall’s YouTube channel on Friday, May 14, 2021 at 7pm ET.
Tickets $6 (required to stream) at flushingtownhall.org
OKAN is the Heart of the People
OKAN means “heart” in the Afro-Cuban faith that Spanish-speakers call Santería. Santería is a beautiful blend of West African Yoruba and Caribbean Christian traditions. The traditions are based on the forces of nature which are familiar to everyone. The group sings about migration, courage and love.
They switch effortlessly from folk traditions to Latin jazz and all kinds of fusions. West African drum, song and dance traditions are designed to bring communities together.
In Mother Africa and Mother Spain, our communities are already blended. We mixed together more in the Caribbean and when we come out into the world, we mix some more. That’s what the Afro Caribbean drum, song and dance traditions do.
Violinist Elizabeth Rodriguez is classically trained and was the concertmaster of Havana’s Youth Orchestra. Cuba produces outstanding classical musicians. Many go on to play jazz because even though jazz is from New Orleans, it’s Caribbean culture. The ferry used to run twice a day between New Orleans and Havana.
Percussionist Magdelys Savigne is from Santiago de Cuba. She graduated with honors from Havana’s University of the Arts.
Cuban music is incredibly diverse, but mostly defined by the rumba of Havana/Matanza in the west and the son of Santiago de Cuba in the east. One is more African with Spanish influences. The other is more Spanish with African influences. The duo is the whole package.
Both artists are Grammy-nominated for their work with Jane Bunnett and Maqueque. OKAN is also a Juno award winner. Junos are the Canadian Grammys.
Sometimes OKAN makes you feel a spiritual connection with the Earth. Sometimes they make you want to dance, but OKAN always connects to your heart. We can all use a little refill right about now.