Those who have entered Cuba through Jose Marti International Airport in Havana will know that upon arrival, they are greeted by beautiful video images of Old Havana on TV screens and the sultry voice of Xiomara Laugart singing “Hoy mi Habana”. And it is no coincidence because Xiomara Laugart is “The Voice of Cuba”. She has been representing her country and her people, performing at venues around the globe for over 30 years and with the greatest of international talents. She is a living legend in her native Cuba where she has recorded more than 15 albums.
Born with a fusion of rhythms in her veins, she began her career at the age of 15. Soon thereafter, her voice categorized her as a true prodigy, gifting her with the remarkable flexibility to interpret musical genres from the traditional to contemporary Cuban music. From the moment she took the highest award in the “Aldolfo Guzman” Contest for Cuban music in 1980, she has become one the most brilliant representatives of Cuban song. While in Cuba, she received multiple invitations to perform all over the world [which she took by storm] taking home international awards including Sochi, Russia, 1980; Sopot, Poland, 1985 Dresden Festival, Germany, 1986.
Xiomara has a peculiar mastery to reveal, not only her vocal virtues, and flexibility, but a special sound, fluently “liquid” and garrulous. Her range is such that the jazz influences seem to be a natural extension of her repertoire. She takes on each style of music and embraces it with her own stamp and authentic flare. For many years, Xiomara Laugart “La Negra” as she is popularly known, was Muse to the Nueva Trova artists and recorded and shared stages with the likes of Omara Portuondo Pablo Milanes, Silvio Rodriguez, and Raul Torres. However, though Xiomara had been performing in the largest of venues in Cuba for years, she longed for a deeper sense of artistic expression, which she found difficult to develop in the oppressive political climate of Cuba. Her dream was to live in the United States and fill the creative void in her soul with her music.
And so, upon arriving in New York, Xiomara was immediately invited as a featured guest vocalist on two jazz albums, “Deep Rumba” by Kip Hanrahan and “Latin Lullaby” by Ellipsis Art, and on Jacky Terrason’s album “What it is” [Blue Note Records]. She also was featured in the first single worldwide single by The Fun Loving Criminals released in 2001. By 2002, Laugart's monthly showcases at New York City's famed underground Zinc Bar were being widely acclaimed as “legendary”.
Xiomara was leading vocalist in Yerba Buena, a New York collective with a brilliant mix of rhythms. Their first album, “President Alien” (2003) was nominated for a Grammy. Tracks from this first album have been used in Pepsi commercials, and in movies, such as Havana Nights. In 2005, Yerba Buena celebrated the release of their second album “Island Life,” to which Xiomara adds her African and Caribbean legacy.
Obviously, we are not in presence of a common manufactured phenomenon. In 2006 she released “Xiomara” on the Chesky Label, offering us a taste of her seductive vocal renditions. Her worldwide debut is a lavish and sophisticated collection of old and new songs written by Meme Solís and Andrés Levin, Descemer Bueno and with arrangements by Octavio Kotan and Axel Tosca.
In 2007, Xiomara left Yerba Buena and embarked on an adventure that held the enormous responsibility of representing one of the most important figures in Latin culture, Celia Cruz, the Queen of Latin Music, in the first ever theatre production based on the legendary late Cuban artist. CELIA: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz, raised its curtain on September 26, 2007 at New World Stages on Broadway, with a massive critical acclaim, highlighting the amazing portrayal and incomparable voice of Xiomara Laugart.
2010 brought the release of “La Voz,” [Chesky], a minimalist album that lays naked, one of the most provocative and emotive vocal performances Xiomara has recorded to date. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjkOGbv8Dyo
Xiomara has performed throughout the United States, France, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Russia, Finland, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Mexico, Colombia, and others. She has recorded and/or performed along names such as: Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Albita, Omara Portuondo, Jacky Terrasson, Omar Sosa, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Dave Valentin, Daniela Mercury, Isaac Delgado, Carlinhos Brown, Arto Lindsay, Roy Hargrove, Ron Blake, Kip Hanrahan, MeShell Ndegeocello, Femi Kuti, D’Angelo, Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, Ana Torroja, Meme Solis, Many Oquendo & Libre, Fun Loving Criminals and Busta Rhymes. Xiomara also appears in the film Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and in the German/Cuban film Paraíso Bajo las Estrellas.
Xiomara is both the essence of the old Cuba, with its rhythmic folk songs, fused with a blend of today’s directness and clarity of voice, which is eventually matched with her deep laugh. It is that distinctive laugh that captivates audiences from all walks of life with her swing style in all of her Cuban splendor.
PRAISE FOR XIOMARA LAUGART
- Xiomara’s melodious voice resounds in high register and she shows a vivid, exceptional sense of rhythm.” “Xiomara’s seductive style left its indelible mark on Cuba for a decade, leaving behind scores of fans in her wake.Xiomara “La Negra” as this young singer is affectionately called by her legion of followers, manages to sing every style from her homeland with ease, from bolero to salsa to danzon to guaracha to funky dance tunes.
-She has a unique blend of rawness, and her voice possesses a liquid quality rarely found in singers today-
-These Supremes of Afro-Cuban fusion sang as if they’d just arrived from Batista-era Cuba, sidestepped in choreographed anarchy, and concluded the clacking “Electric Boogaloo” with Laugart showing the world how fast she could fire her piston hips- Miami New Herald
-“When [Yerba Buena’s] Xiomara Laugart performs. She boasts a voice as powerful as it is beautiful.- Essence
-Lined up on stage, the musicians of multiculti outfit Yerba Buena really impress.. the band has an image as powerful as the sound they unleash on President Alien. Xiomara Laugart’s voice [has] a power that leaves no option to dance – Loft
-Start with lead vocalist Xiomara Laugart, who combines the fire of a house diva with fierce Afro-Cuban authenticity – Barnes and Noble
-President Alien is the ultimate diasporic cocktail for the plugged-in urban guajiro. New York bassist Andres Levin took his azucar straight out of Cuba for the front lineup, featuring the bewitching Xiomara Laugart. Independent Weekly
- Founded by esteemed guitarist and producer Andres Levin (Macy Gray, D'Angelo), and fronted by expat Cuban diva Xiomara Laugart, Yerba Buena can conjure refined urban complexity or a visceral rhythmic stew- Philadelphia Enquirer
-Lead diva Xiomara Laugart melds house music and salsa with all the power and energy of la India – All Music Guide
-Xiomara Laugart’s powerful interpretation in the starring role fills the stage and the potency of her voice...convinces in every one of her appearances – M Fedez Soberon, El Nuevo Dia
- In each stage entrance she is applauded by the fans of the "Queen of Salsa," for her masterful interpretations - Ruth Hernandez, EFE Agency
-Salsa Queen Still Rules...Laugart is a powerhouse... Joe Dzeimianowicz New York Daily News
-In a revelatory stage performance Laugart demonstrated she was the right choice for this coveted role and Off-Broadway has a new Hispanic star. Norma Niurka, El Nuevo Herald
- Juan de Marcos, a renowned Cuban bandleader and producer, whose projects include the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban Allstars, calls Laugart the best female singer of her generation in Cuba – Jordan Levin, El Nuevo Herald