OKAN takes their name from the word for heart or soul in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria and 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 MagdelysSavigne 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.
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 Lebetter 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 worldmusic and jazz categories.
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.