Okan

Taking their name from the word for heart or soul in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, OKAN fuses Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms in songs about immigration, courage, and love.  

Embracing genres that have not historically fostered women artists outside of the role of singer, OKAN co-leaders, composers and multi-instrumentalists Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne bring a fresh perspective to Latin and world jazz fusion through their powerful harmonies, incredible musicianship, and potent lyrical content. 

Born in Havana, Cuba, Elizabeth Rodriguez is a classically trained violinist who served as concertmaster for Havana’s Youth Orchestra. Magdelys Savigne hails from Santiago de Cuba and graduated with honours in orchestral percussion from Havana’s University of the Arts.  Both are JUNO-nominees for their work with Battle of Santiago and Grammy-nominees for their contributions to Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, of which they are former members.  

Living and collaborating in the intensely multicultural city of Toronto has enriched OKAN’s compositions with influences from Brazil, Spain, and New Orleans. Backed by some of Canada's finest jazz and Latin players including Miguel de Armas, Roberto Riveron, Jeremy Ledbetter, and Alexis Baro, OKAN launched their debut full-length recording Sombras in 2019. The EP Laberinto which preceded that release earned Independent Music Awards in both the world music and jazz categories. Another full length CD, entitled Espiral, will be released later this year.  

Recipients of a Stingray Rising Stars Award in 2019 OKAN’s recent  touring activity has taken them across Canada and the U.S. with stops at Sunfest, Harrison and Middlebury festivals as well as Passim in Boston, Old Town School of Folk in Chicago and Hermann’s jazz in Vancouver. 

Taking their name from the word for heart or soul in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, OKAN fuses Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms in songs about immigration, courage, and love.  OKAN will perform award-winning compositions from their debut album Sombras as well new material from the much anticipated follow up release, Espiral, as they continue to delve ever deeper into the Afro-Cuban elements of their music, exploring the powerful connections to their heritage through a contemporary lens informed, by jazz and contemporary folk. 

Embracing genres that have not historically fostered women artists outside of the role of singer, OKAN co-leaders, composers and multi-instrumentalists Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne bring a fresh perspective to Latin and world jazz fusion through their powerful harmonies, incredible musicianship, and potent lyrical content. Backed by some Cuban Canadian jazz leaders such as pianist Miguel de Armas, OKAN performs as a quintet. 

Passionate educators and advocates for women in music, Rodriguez, and Savigne are available to do workshops for all levels and ages. 

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