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Every Wednesday at 4pm the North 103.3 highlights global artists during Northland Afternoon

World Music Wednesday: Daymé Arocena

This week's World Music Wednesday spotlights Afro-Cuban jazz vocalist Daymé Arocena with a selection from her latest album Alkemi.

World Music Wednesday is a weekly segment on The North 103.3 FM. Every Wednesday at 4pm on Northland Afternoon, we will feature a brand-new release or a significantly important past work from our vast library of music from around the world.

Support for World Music Wednesday comes from Simply Ballroom in Duluth's Craft District.

In today’s World Music Wednesday, we are travelling to Havana, Cuba and then over to Canada and Puerto Rico for a listening experience with Afro-Cuban jazz singer Daymé Arocena. Born in Havana in 1992, Arocena’s family endured the extreme poverty of Cuba that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union by singing and dancing every day. When they had electricity, they listened to Soul Train, but when the power was out, the 14 family members sharing a small apartment would create their own musical playground. While many musical genres where frowned upon by communist authorities, jazz was deemed acceptable, and by her teen years, Dayme Arocena had become an accomplished and respected jazz singer, joining the band Maqueque where she brought her Santeria heritage into the music and began performing internationally throughout Europe, Latin America and the United States.

Cuba’s strict control over the creativity of artists through their Decree 349 led Arocena to leave Cuba in favor of Canada and then Puerto Rico in 2018. Cuban authorities have openly and often criticized Arocena’s music as political propaganda. Arocena, on the other hand, had begun to explore and process the influence of Africa on Caribbean life and music. Speaking to NPR, Arocena said, “My biggest dream is to make Latinos feel proud to be African descendants – more than their skin color, to be proud of their mixed-race DNA.”


Dayme Arocena has five solo studio albums including Nueva Era (2015), One Takes (2016), Cubafonia (2017), Sonocardiogram (2019), and Alkemi (2024) (that we have been hearing music from). She has also been a reoccurring member of the Grammy nominated and Juno Award winning bandJane Burnett and Maqueque, an all-woman jazz ensemble specializing in Afro/Cuban jazz. Arocena is currently touring the world with upcoming performances around New York; Puerto Rico; Latvia; Austin, Texas; and Miami, Florida.

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