OKAN

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, Yoruba 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 performed and recorded with Bomba Estereo, Lido Pimienta, The Halifax Symphony Orchestra, Hilario Duran and Dayme Arocena, OKAN’s 2023 release Okantomi was nominated for a Juno Award and included in NPR Alt Latino, Le Monde, and CBC Music’s “Best of 2023” lists, garnering critical praise from Songlines UK, Billboard, Pop Matters and JAZZIZ.

Building on their Juno-winning sophomore Espiral (2020) and the Juno-nominated debut Sombras (2019), Okantomi passionately advocates for freedom of expression, queer rights and gender equality. Magdelys and Elizabeth’s mesmerizing harmonies, virtuosic musicianship and potent lyrics, as well as an unfailing ability to connect with audiences on a deep emotional level, are earning the duo a dedicated audience worldwide.

Embracing genres that have not historically fostered women artists outside of the role of singer, OKAN co-leaders have faced many challenges. Magdelys talks about the obstacles she faced in pursuing percussion in her native Cuba and how “coming out as a percussionist” to her family. was as big a deal as coming out as queer. Part of the next wave of Cuban women composers and multi-instrumentalists, Elizabeth and Magdelys bring a fresh perspective to Latin and world jazz fusion through their powerful harmonies, elevated musicianship and provocative but playful lyrical content.