Concerts

La Dame Blanche Blends Her Classical Training with a Myriad of Genres

La Dame Blanche
La Dame Blanche Photo by Maxi Guterman
Cuban-raised, Paris-based Yaite Rodriguez, who goes by the stage name La Dame Blanche, cannot be pinned down to a single genre. Although rooted in the traditional Cuban music she was raised with, the classically trained flautist is pretty much all over the place, dabbling into genres like hip-hop, reggae, cumbia, and urbano. The genre-hopping had a lot to do with her move to the French capital and involvement in its local music scene.

Music has been of Rodriguez's life from an early age. Her father, Jesús "Aguaje" Ramos, is the artistic director of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club.

"I was born in Cuba and left when I was 24," Rodriguez tells New Times. "I was raised in a musical family. I was the only one in my family who actually left Cuba, and when I got to Paris, I fell in love with this place. I come from traditional Cuban music, and that is where I come from. I am a classical flautist, but once I got here, I got to know so many other genres, such are reggae, cumbia, [and] a lot of cultures — there is so much culture here. I had to learn and collaborate with many musicians, and that is what turned me into what I have become now. I've had such a great experience here."

Watch her recent performance for Seattle's KEXP, and one can hear strains of the dramatic flamenco of Concha Buika and more subtle elements of French chanson.

"Many people say that I sound a bit gitano, but I have never worked with anyone in that genre," Rodriguez explains. "But the emotions are similar. It's not the first time that I went in that direction."
Santería, the religion practiced by many people in the Caribbean and parts of South America, is also a big part of her life. This explains her stage name: "the White Lady" in French.

"La Dame Blanche is a representation of a spiritual thing," she says. "I am Black. It's a mysterious thing that I like a lot. I like this reference."

For her South Florida debut at the Miami Beach Bandshell, Rodriguez plans to showcase a lot of material from the 2020 album Ella, a living tribute to her mother.

"A lot of the songs come from Ella," she says of her setlist. "The album came out just around the time of the lockdowns, so I could not really promote it. So I am doing a lot of songs from it, a lot of songs from my first record. It all depends on how much time we have for our concert."

Still, Rodriguez clarifies that Ella is not only about her mother.

"It is an homage to my mother, but it really is about all women. All the warriors out there," Rodriguez notes. "If I am the woman I am today, I owe it to her, so my mother is a big part of it."

La Dame Blanche. 8 p.m. Thursday, September 29, at Miami Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-453-2897; northbeachbandshell.com. Admission is free with RSVP via eventbrite.com.
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Ernest Barteldes