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OKAN Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble
Thursday, April 13, 2023 | 8:30pm
753 View St. Victoria, BC
Fusing Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms in songs about immigration, resistance and love, OKAN takes their name from the word for heart in their Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. With vocals in Spanish, English and Spanglish, OKAN is led by the Cuban-born violinist and vocalist Elizabeth Rodriguez and percussionist and vocalist Magdelys Savigne, both Grammy and Latin-Grammy nominees.
Having recently worked with Bomba Estereo, Lido Pimienta, and Dayme Arocena, OKAN’s Juno-winning sophomore release Espiral debuted at number 1 on !Earshot and was included in CBC Music's top 20 and NPR's top 10 Alt Latino's albums of that year.
Passionate advocates for freedom of expression, queer rights and gender equality, OKAN has gained a reputation for their powerful live performances, which showcase their incredible harmonies, virtuosic musicianship, potent lyrics as well as an unfailing ability to connect with audiences on a deep emotional level.
Embracing genres that have not historically fostered women artists outside of the role of singer, OKAN co-leaders, composers and multi-instrumentalists Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne bring a fresh perspective to Latin and world jazz fusion through their powerful harmonies, incredible musicianship and provocative but playful lyrical content.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Elizabeth Rodriguez is a classically trained violinist who served as concertmaster for Havana’s Youth Orchestra. Magdelys Savigne hails from Santiago de Cuba and graduated with honors in orchestral percussion from Havana’s University of the Arts.
Called "lush and vibrant, urgent but specific and deeply intentional" by CBC Music, OKAN’s second album Espiral delves deeper into the group's rich Cuban roots, finding renewed inspiration in this powerful musical heritage. The Santeria influences are most evident in the title track, which uniquely blends guajira, the folk genre of Eastern Cuba, with Santeria-derived chants.