My musical journey began in Cuba.

Some say that music is a journey of self-discovery, the perfect motive and vehicle to explore who we are, overcome our limitations, and discover our individuality. This is the story of how a young American, originally from the city of San Francisco, once landed in the Greater Antilles and found in music the starting point of his journey, which is just beginning.

Hayley Gray is 25 and discovered her interest in singing at 13 with a teacher who helped her channel her creative interests into extracurricular activities that also included theater and dance. As he came of age, Gray became addicted to vocal jazz, and there an interest was born that would intensify with his first visit to the Cuban archipelago.

“My musical journey began in Cuba,” he assures. Jr This young woman, whose debut on the domestic scene took place during the 35th edition. International Festival Jazz Plaza 2020, on ship 3 of the Cuban Art Factory. Then his presence at the musical event became a habit, an event that also opened doors for him during the last two calls to present his own compositions.

“I always knew that I wanted to write songs and work with people who would help me do it, like my good bass player friend Lily Stern. From university, I started with jazz fusion and new soul. There I gathered a group with my friends, and for the first time we got to Jazz Plaza. I feel a great connection between the art that develops here and what I see in New York, where I now live,” comments the translator, whose last presentation took place on the premises of the Cuba Pavilion, as part of the Jazz Festival recently concluded.

Hayley Gray writes about the different realities she has lived in, from her hometown to her experiences with the great city of New York, through which she travels in search of her own identity in such a cosmopolitan country. She writes about love, empowering women, and most recently has found inspiration in the orisha world, especially the deity Oshun.

His association with Cuba began four years ago when he studied at Hampshire College in collaboration with the Alejo Carpentier Foundation. Suddenly, Gray found himself in the Regla area, where his mentors, singer Janet Valdez and musician Alejandro Meroño, live. They, in addition to lessons in singing and musical technique, introduced her to the cultural fabric of one of the municipalities in Havana, where the drum is heard the most and Afro-Cuban myths sweep the streets, cross the bay and take over the city.

The same city that, thanks to music, made Gray fall in love with the rhythm of Bol de Nieve and Omara Portuondo. In fact, its interpretation in Spanish my soul And twenty years lets look at its exquisite qualities for filin. “I came to Cuba with a lot of questions about myself and my goals. I come from a family that is half white, half black, which means there are a lot of identity issues in a country like the United States. So when I came to this country, I felt like I was in a place where I knew who I was. The experience of salsa and rumba, and not only what they do in Cuba, but also the Cubans in New York, raises the level of anyone who feels the rhythm, ”he explains.

Hayley Gray claims her first vocal inspiration was Billie Holiday, a clear reference to the young woman’s career seen in performances such as In the cold, my boy And tea leaves, the artist’s audiovisual material, which can be found on the YouTube platform. In addition, among the references of the singer are Sarah Vaughn, Donnie Hathaway and other great African-American representatives of soul and jazz.

It is a privilege for a young artist to have access to the Cuban scene through a platform with such great unifying power and diversity as Jazz Plaza, an event that has accumulated over four decades of promoting good music. But the truth is that it is also a sweet gift for the Cuban public to witness the birth of an international star who has found a foothold for her career in this archipelago.

Jazz, reconstruction

When Hayley Gray opened her musical eyes, she became interested in the history of American jazz artists and the entire musical movement in her country. “For me, jazz is a reconstruction of the meeting of two cultures, classical and African. I found a lot of inspiration in this mix and all the great musicians who made it possible. It’s a story that transcends racism and oppression, and it’s beautiful,” he muses in a conversation with his Cuban mentor, Janet Valdez.

For Valdez, “jazz gives you the ability to explore who you are in real time and instantly, and extract it all in a moment, because at the end of the day, you don’t sing the same song twice, and I think that this is what you need”. O.” deep research. We have a common base – Africa, Cubans and Americans – and I believe that jazz is a language that has allowed us to communicate on a higher, more spiritual level. Hayley’s way of translating and her way of communicating with Cubans is an example of that.”

Hailey Gray completed this new milestone in her journey during her 38th edition. from Jazz Plaza, with the desire to start production of his first record, in which he will show his compositional routes. In the meantime, the public is waiting to be reunited with this translator who, in her training, has chosen to imbibe the most fundamental of our culture, jazz from everywhere: that music that knows no boundaries.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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