Violinist/vocalist Yilian Cañizares releases “Yemayá” for UN World Oceans Day on June 8

The tribute to the West African Goddess of the Sea was specially conceived for United Nations World Oceans Day on June 8, 2021

Yilian Cañizares, violinist. vocalist © Luis Luis-Malibrán

Cuban violinist/vocalist Yilian Cañizares has been invited to perform during the United Nations World Oceans Day on June 8, 2021. For this very special occasion she will perform “Yemayá,” her tribute to the West African Goddess of the Sea. She will also release a gorgeous video of the song on June 8.

Yemayá symbolizes Mother Earth and is represented by the colors blue and white: blue for placid waters of the sea and white for the tips of the waves that can bring the force of the ocean. Ylilian has projected the image of the Yoruba Goddess of the Sea as a healing force that will unite humanity.

A deep relationship with sound, music and the sea have been central in Yilian’s life since her early years in Cuba. The strong symbolism and the sacred dimension of water are part of the daily life of any Cuban. That is why she has naturally felt inspired to be the “voice of the ocean” asking herself this question: if the sea could send a message to humanity, what would it be? Through “Yemayá,” Yilian hopes to contribute in raising awareness about the challenges faced by the oceans, as well as the cultural heritages of all cultures on the planet which rely on healthy and prosperous oceans.

Yilian Cañizares composed this song combining Afro-Cuban futurist rhythms to draw awareness of the danger that the world’s oceans are facing and to celebrate the spiritual dimension of the work to preserve the world’s oceans. The song and the dance evoke the movement of the waves and the fundamental role that our positive interaction with the environment has for the survival of humanity. She calls on Yemayá to help humanity heal the pollution of the oceans and to respect Mother Earth.

More than just a musician, Cañizares is a global Cuban artist with a social conscience. She forms part of the diaspora of talented Cuban artists who have spread across the world sharing their music, social conscience and spiritual sensibilities through their work. Her Afro-Cuban futurist style blends her classical virtuosity and jazz sensibilities with her Havana life experience. She toured with Cuban jazz legends Chucho Valdes and Omar Sosa and played in many classical concert halls and conservatories as well. As a soloist, she embraces a women’s perspective of Afro-Cuban music, absorbing the strength and rhythms of the sea and the nurturing warmth of Mother Earth.

Join the @yemayachallenge: a dance challenge to Yilian’s song to heal the planet’s oceans.

Yilian is one of the most incredible talents of the new generation of Cuban musicians. She is a virtuoso, she is expressive, spontaneous and with a grace that makes her the favorite of all of us.” – Chucho Valdés

Yilian Cañizares, YEMAYA

Yilian Cañizares is one of the most intriguing contemporary violinists, singers and composers. Always staying true to her origins, she skillfully blends jazz, classical and Afro- Cuban rhythms with her otherworldly voice. Whether on stage or in a recording studio, there are few talented artists like Yilian – who was born in Havana and settled in Switzerland – with such great respect for the past and sensitivity towards the future, accompanied by a smile to die for.

Two acclaimed albums, the self-produced “Ochumare” released in 2013 and its 2015 follow-up “Invocación,” under the guidance of Alê Siqueira (Roberto Fonseca, Omara Portuondo), have strengthened her reputation as an innovative artist who is capable of transcending musical boundaries. French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur called her the “revelation of the year” due to her charisma, influences and the ease with which Yilian sings and plays the violin.

When she was just 14 years old, Yilian Cañizares was offered a scholarship to study in Caracas. In 2000, she moved to Switzerland to study at a conservatory. After a few years, major orchestras began to request her and, after moving to Lausanne, she collaborated with several ensembles for six years. During this period, the artist created a quartet of musicians from Germany, Venezuela and Switzerland (and later Cuba) and named it “Ochumare”. Six months later, in 2008, she won the Montreux Jazz Festival Competition with this group. Since then, her career has crescendoed. In recent years, she has shared a stage with Ibrahim Maalouf, Omar Sosa, Youn Sun Nah, Richard Bona, Chucho Valdés, Roberto Fonseca, Dhafer Youssef, the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne and El Comité. “My sound reflects the richness and mixture of cultures that I carry with me today. It reflects what I am: a woman, Cuban, musician and citizen of the world”, explains the artist.“Invocación”, her second album, topped last year’s Qobuz world music ranking and has been reissued in a deluxe edition.

“Aguas”, the album produced in collaboration with Omar Sosa, was released on 5th October 2018. Together with their compatriot Inor Sotolongo on percussion, the duo created an intimate, personal record that reflects the perspectives of two generations of Cuban artists who live a long way from their homeland. The album is a mix of moving songs and energetic ballads, a symbol of the incomparable musical chemistry between the two artists. A unique fusion between Afro-Cuban music, classical music and jazz.

The new album, “Erzulie”, named after the Haitian goddess of love and freedom, was released on 15th November 2019 with her new format Yilian & The Maroons. Recorded in New Orleans, the album features the participation of several guests including Christian Scott (trumpet), Michael League (double bass), Bill Laurance (piano), Bobby Sparks (organ) and Justin Stanton (keyboards).

Yilian Cañizares in a few dates
1980 – Born in Cuba
1997 – Obtaining a scholarship in Venezuela
2000 – Obtaining a scholarship in Switzerland
2008 – MJF Prize
2013 – Release “Ochumare”
2015 – Release “Invocación”
2018 – Release “Aguas” with Omar Sosa
2019 – Collaboration with Chucho Valdés
2019 – Collaboration with Ibrahim Maalouf
2019 – Release “Erzulie”

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