OKAN encourages healing and gives love

OKAN band cuba toronto

OKAN is a mindset, a family, a Cuban-Canadian immigration tale, and maybe most of all, a celebration.

OKAN is violinist Elizabeth Rodriguez and percussionist Magdelys Savigne, both Cuban natives (and Grammy nominees) who now live in Toronto. Taking their name from the word for ‘heart’ in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, OKAN’s music forges a new space in world music and defies labels. “Afro-Cuban-Toronto-jazz-folk-fiddle-alt-Latino” is wonky and wordy, so perhaps the best way to understand this groundbreaking group is with your own ears,

OKAN insists on moving you with energetic vocals, chants, layers of violin and irresistible percussion, and a fusion of their Afro-Cuban roots with life in Canada. Their song “Eshu Nigue” takes you to an island mindset that’s been steeped in big city confidence – the kind found when a young person strikes out, leaving their home for another world, one where music, dreams, and family become the new creation.


The duo’s third album Okantomi was a slow brewing creation, but the result is vibrant. “We matured as musicians and humans…let the experiences sink in…influenced by the endless ways we try to stay connected to our roots,” says Rodriguez.


Their music shines with energy as well as the very real experience of emigrating from a warm island seascape to a snowy cityscape. “Years of winter here [in Canada] have made me stronger,” Rodriguez continues, as well as “freer to express myself openly.”


No voy a callarme de nuevo  
Los años de nieve me han quitado el miedo. 
(Translation) 
I will not shut up again 
The years of snow have taken away my fear 


Another song, the beautiful instrumental “Preludio y Changüí,” showcases Rodriguez and Savigne’s classical training. The song reaches out and creates an emotional connection – it’s complex yet accessible.

 
OKAN processes reality, encourages healing, and gives love. Give Okantomi a spin and you will move, feel uplifted, and expand your musical mind. 


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