Danay Suárez can single-handedly save the music world.
And maybe the best thing about Suárez, the Cuban singer-songwriter, is that she doesn’t even know how much power she wields.
In a world where the protocol is to discover a musical act the caliber of Suárez and quickly try to classify or fit her into a mold, the Cuban sensation, here in the United States for the very first time as a self-proclaimed glorified tourist, is a refreshing and very necessary sound — one that brings a message not heard very often anymore.
And Suárez brings her music to the New Parish in Oakland Wednesday, May 29, for a rare concert appearance that many are looking at a possible Concert of the Year kind of experience.
So what is all the hype about really?
The excitement itself revolves around Suárez’s sound. And for those in search of an American reference point, perhaps the most fitting answer is to say Suárez is a fusion between artists like Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott and maybe a little Eryka Badu with a dash of Diana Krall and that smooth, sultry jazz sound.
“I can’t define it,” Suárez said in a translated interview with the Daily Journal. “Even I have a lot of trouble defining what I do, it’s difficult to give it a label because, I find what I do to be very honest. I’ve met so many people in my life who have very interesting music acts and it’s in those connections that I keep discovering what I do. I’m influenced by so many other people.”
A quick search on Youtube will probably send you in the hip hop direction when it comes to Suárez. But to jump the gun and label her a hip-hop artist would be a big mistake. Further investigating the Suárez sound will lead you to discover an artist who fuses skillful word play with the improvisation of a jazz scat and a sound heavily influenced by music from all around the globe.
“I have a huge passion for the traditional music from all parts of the world,” Suárez said. “The influences that I have are much too vast. As a race, we’ve all been fused. That’s why I don’t like the labels. Plus, when you focus on just one genre, you are diminishing the others. And the main thing I’ve trying to do with my art is not create divisions or separations.”
By focusing on that fusion and adding lyrics are strike at the heart of the Latin American conscience, Suárez has created a unique sound — one that the world needs as it continues to blend into the bland.
Suárez’s first solo full-length album, “Polvo De La Humedad,” was independently released in 2011 and was hailed by the specialized media as one of the best Latin albums of that year.
In 2009, renowned world-music DJ Gilles Peterson recorded the seminal Havana Cultura double-disc compilation in Cuba’s capital, a collection of jazz sessions with young local talent. The then 24-year-old Suárez made her international debut with some of the most memorable moments on that album, which in turn resulted on the release of her own Peterson-produced EP soon after.
Fast-forward four years and Suárez’s sound and voice is one of the most recognizable and fastest-growing in the Latin hip-hop scene because it’s one that is slow roasted. Suárez said she isn’t one to do a lot of shows, or isn’t focused on always being in the public eye. To her, the most important thing is to create a fully developed message and present it at its due time — quality above quantity.
“The most important word in the world for me is respect,” Suárez said. “It’s a word that has allowed me to connect with anyone on this planet that doesn’t necessarily have to agree with my thoughts or my ideas, but I’ve been able to communicate with them using respect. That’s the main thing. The one thing I’ve learned in this life to be who I am.”
And who Suárez is as an artist and performer can be world changing. Thus, nights like Wednesday at the New Parish in Oakland can’t be missed.
“When I think about these dates,” Suárez said, “the first thing that comes to mind is the audience. There is will a time when we go on the road, glorified tourist. At this moment, I’m just thinking about he audience, how I can connect with the people that are there? How can I get them to understand me? That’s the main thing.”
Tickets and information for Danay Suárez can be found at www.thenewparish.com