It’s been a winning week for trailblazing contemporary Afro-Cuban Roots and Jazz ensemble, OKAN. Led by Toronto-based, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne, OKAN recently picked up their first JUNO Award for their 2020 album, Espiral, in the category of World Music Album of the Year. The accolade follows their first JUNO nomination for their earlier release, Sombras, which was also nominated for a 2021 Canadian Folk Music Award.
On the eve of the win, and in celebration of PRIDE month, they released a new video for Pie de Foto, a standout track from Espiral (released October 9, 2020 via Lulaworld Records). Directed by Ksenija Hotić, and featuring pianist Jeremy Ledbetter, the visual captures the couple’s romantic, spiritual and creative partnership framed by beautiful flora and fauna. Spanish for caption, Pie de Foto creates a personal vision of authenticity, strength, vibrancy, and grace that is unequivocally OKAN.
Another video for the high-energy instrumental track, Trocada, will be released later this summer. Check out the visual for the album’s title track, Espiral, here.
Beyond the studio, stage and podium, OKAN has stayed steadily creating throughout the pandemic with virtual appearances for the Aga Khan, Harrison Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival’s Cabin Fever, Festival International de Louisiane, and a recent Instagram takeover for the TOLive venue, Meridian Hall, amongst numerous others.
In addition to all the online concerts, Magdelys and Elizabeth have been focusing on sharing their love of music through workshops and teaching residencies with Sistema, Prairie Debut, and Lula Music and Arts Centre.
They have virtual and in person concerts lined up for the Ottawa Chamberfest, TD Salsa in Toronto Festival 2021, Huntsville Festival of the Arts, Summerfolk and The Nelson International Mural Festival. Stay tuned for details set to be released in the coming weeks.
On the international front, OKAN’s collaboration with Colombian band, Bomba Estereo, has allowed them to reach audiences around the world, where their distinctive vocals can be heard on the title track, Agua (alongside fellow Canadian Latinx artist, Lido Pimienta). The official video for this track has 1.6 million views on YouTube.