Tina Brown's 7th Annual Women In The World Summit - Day 1
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Cuban Songstress Dayme Arocena Is The World's Next Jazz Phenomenon

A 24-year-old Cuban songstress just might be the successor of Nina Simone and Celia Cruz. 

It's not often that a 24-year-old garners international acclaim and musical comparisons to musical giants Nina Simone and Celia Cruz, but Cuban-born Dayme Arocena is no ordinary artist.

Raised in Havana, she was hailed a musical prodigy, becoming a trained composer, arranger, choir director, and band leader, in addition to singing. At eight, she began performing semi-professionally; six years later, she became the lead singer of Los Primos. Her charming demeanor has captivated audiences worldwide, particularly with Grettel Jimenez Singer of Paper, in a fascinating interview piece.

The Cuban songstress is an avid practitioner of Santería, an Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs, frequently dressing in a turban, complimented by an all white ensemble, symbolizing the faith. ""Madres", the first song in the Nueva Era album is meant to be a prayer for my two spiritual mothers, Oshún and Yemayá, who are also mothers to the rivers and the seas. It's essentially about mothers and daughters in the world and the strength we need from each other."

She credits the faith for helping her to deliver an otherworldly performance onstage: "My head is definitely Yemayá, practical, yet nourishing and forgiving, but very protective of those I love. My body however is one hundred percent Oshún. She is the orisha of love, beauty, femininity, and sensuality. Her body is voluptuous and it carries joy just like mine. I wasn't always fond of my body." With the practice of Santería came a blossoming of confidence. "I wasn't always fond of my body. I used to be ashamed of how I looked, how short I am, about my skin color. As a result, my spirit was crushed and my presence on stage was tarnished by my own judgment. That's in the past now. I have mastered the art of not just loving but adoring myself. As women, we must understand who we are and what we're made of, accept what nature has given us, and be comfortable with our sexuality. Nobody can resist that," says Arocena.

It's this connection with potent spiritual forces that enables Arocena to improvise musically, to blend genres if so inclined, despite preferring jazz music in her free time. "My music is frank," she says. "That's one way I can describe it, and that means anything can happen. When la musa shows up, I welcome her and take whatever she's offering: pop, jazz, Afro-Cuban chants, filin… I take it all and give it my all."

Arocena's musical improvisation is also indicative of the new sonic sound emanating from her home country, evident in her debut album Nueva Era, which was released in 2015. "What she is doing is drawing on all this contemporary music that's happening in Cuba. A mixture of salsa, a mixture of jazz, a mixture of hip-hop, neo-soul—that nice little combination," notes NPR music podcast host, Felix Contreras. "And then adding elements of Afro-Cuban rumba with music, with vocals, with dancing styles—all of that, and put in this really wonderful package."

Jazz, according to Arocena, provides a center for musical interpretation and improvisation. "If you mix jazz with everything, it always works—that’s why I love it. It gives me all the opportunity to create as I feel it. I always try to be honest with myself. I always try to create as I feel it, even knowing that new song is always going to have that jazzy taste inside," she told Miami New Times.

The songbird's presence is striking, a walking visual of the magic of Afro-Cuban culture. "Cuba is a talented country, full of talented people with bright ideas. Cubans are innovators by nature, but we have been secluded and isolated from the rest of the world for many decades," explains Arocena. "There's also something beautiful about that, in the sense that it has made us a remarkably pure culture. But this is a different era, and the time has arrived for Cubans to learn how the rest of the world works."

"We are like magicians. We have made cars work for 50 years out of nothing at all," she continues, speaking about her beloved island. "We reinvent life every single day in order to eat and to withstand the quotidian struggles, which aren't few, and we do it with a smile because above all, we celebrate life to the fullest. So what do I want from this new change happening right now? I want freedom, information, and visibility. I want to be able to exchange ideas with the rest of the world, nourish mentally and emotionally from other cultures and vice versa."

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Puerto Rico Calls For Ban On Flights From Coronavirus Hot Spots

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Associated Press reports Gov. Vázquez launched the petition to the Federal Aviation Administration this week after officials accused tourists of taking medication to reduce their fevers and failing to adhere to the self-isolation rules. The incidents were later confirmed by GNPR general aide, General José Reyes.

The FAA reportedly granted a request for all flights to arrive at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMM), so that Puerto Rico National Guard (GNPR) could screen passengers arriving at the island.

“Now we want people from the areas most affected by Covid-19 not to arrive," Vázquez said. "This as part of the necessary measures to prevent this virus from spreading and affecting the health of the people of Puerto Rico."

As part of the proposal, Vázquez has listed flights from New York, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Illinois as "hot spots" of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, cases in Puerto Rico have sadly risen. The island has reported at least 24 deaths and 620 confirmed cases. Much like in cites like New York, a curfew was imposed on March 15 that closed non-essential businesses and ordered people to stay in their homes with the exception of grocery shopping or picking up medication.

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Cardi B Assures Fans She Doesn't Have Coronavirus After Hospitalization

Cardi B has clarified her recent hospitalization had nothing to do with the current coronavirus outbreak.

The rapper took to Instagram Live to clear up the rumors after she shared a photo of her with an identity band from a hospital. “I’ve been very f***ing sick these past five days–not corona,” she said Thursday (April 2). “I have really bad stomach issues. I started throwing up; I took a pregnancy test cuz a b***h never f***ing knows.”

As she tried to find out what was wrong, fans went into a frenzy with claims of coronavirus. “I threw up seven times," she said. "I didn’t want to go to the hospital, I went to the hospital. I was sick and [press] ran with it, then my publicist hit me up and it ain’t nothing coronavirus-related, thank God!”

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In lighter news, the rapper confirmed proceeds of her viral "Coronavirus" track will benefit those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Nicky Jam Shows The Good, The Bad And The Hustle In 'El Ganador' Bio-Series Trailer

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Sharing the trailer this week, the series will highlight Jam's journey in the music industry as well as the struggles he endured in the streets and more. The project is directed by acclaimed film and music video director Jessy Terrero and produced by Endemol Shine Boomdog, a division of Endemol Shine North America. The series will officially hit Netflix on April 21.

In the trailer, we see Jam in three stages: his youth, his rookie days in the game and the actual artist in the present. The creative take is bound to give fans another perspective of the Grammy-winning artist.

“I’ve been hearing from many of my fans on social media and when I talk with them in person, that they’ve been waiting for the chance to see ‘El Ganador’ in the U.S. on Netflix,” said Nicky Jam. “Now they will get to see it starting April 21 and I hope they enjoy it like so many others have across the world. I’m really proud of what we created.”

“I am excited about bringing this level of story-telling that is related to reggaeton music,” added Terrero. “The genre’s popularity gives our story and others like it the opportunity to reach a much larger audience. This is my mission with Cinema Giants. Nicky’s story is inspirational in so many ways. I am proud to be part of it.”

Jam recently celebrated another feat on the Billboard Latin charts. "Muevelo," his buzzy single with Daddy Yankee, reached No. 1 on both the Latín Airplay and Latin Rhythm Airplay charts. 

Check out the trailer for El Ganador up top and revisit our VIBE VIVA February cover story with Jam here. 

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