Originally from the Guantanamo province of Cuba, Xiomara Laugart began her career at the age of 15, performing several different expressions of traditional and contemporary Cuban music. She had an extensive career performing nueva trova music in Cuba and has recorded over 17 albums. Xiomara’s remarkable fluidity allowed her to interpret musical genres from the traditional to contemporary Cuban music. Her son, the versatile human/artist, Axel Tosca benefitted from a wide range of musical experiences growing up in Cuba, winning several piano competitions before moving to the U.S. in 2005 where he continued his education at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Together, they’ve become two of the most globally recognized musical representatives of Cuban culture and song. 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”. This is not a coincidence. Xiomara is known as the “Voice of Cuba.” She has been representing her country and her people at venues aroundAt the turn of the millenium, Xiomara moved to New York City and became the lead vocalist of the band Yerba Buena. The group received a Grammy nomination in 2003 for their first album President Alien. Music from the album can be heard in the film Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and in Pepsi commercials. 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 Salsa Music, in the first ever theatre production of CELIA: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz.
I had the honor and pleasure of catching up with Xiomara Laugart ahead of her headlining set on June 17th at The Sessions At McPike Park. She helps convey a little pre-show image of what emotions and styles we can expect in the Madison sunshine from her and her son Alex’ trio. Xiomara shares a bit of a personal story of her dad and how she recalls getting the ‘music’ in her from bedtime songs and we talk about how she keeps up with the times to be able to blend the old with the new. She credits her son Axel for a lot of that. We talk about her/his open mindedness towards all sounds and the experiences of working with others (Roy Hargrove, Louis Vega etc.) gives the assist in being able to do so for both of them. This is going to be one to remember on the lawns of McPike Park as Cuba and beyond come to Madison.