Xiomara Laugart

You might not have heard the name Xiomara Laugart, but you probably should have. And when you do, you're in for a hell of a treat. Xiomara Laugart, colloquially known as "La Negra," boasts one powerful voice. All at once, it bears the singular qualities of the old troubadours singing trova in Cuba at the turn of the century, and those of a jazz performer in a smoky nightclub some 30 years later.

It's no surprise that, as an alumna of the Grammy-nominated fusion band Yerba Buena, Laugart delivers music that blends the more traditional sounds of her native Cuba with modern sensibilities. (It's also this blend that has often given her a stylistic tag of nueva trova.) Back in Cuba, she recorded 15 albums and performed alongside heavyweights such as Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez, and Raúl Torres. Stateside, she has also enjoyed well-deserved success; she even made it onto Broadway for the production Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz.

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Christopher Lopez