Deep melancholy contests resurgent hope through the low, raspy voice of Cuban singer, keyboardist and pianist Ariacne Trujillo. “Sometimes when it seems that you are falling millions of miles behind, you are mysteriously moving forward,” she explains. “When there’s hope; there’s no fear. Never give up no matter what life brings you.” And Ariacne, who has performed with Paul Simon and has been on many Cuban TV shows, is not about to give up.
Only a very courageous woman could thrive as she has: while raising her 10-year-old son, Niack, on her own, Ariacne works fulltime. “I’m a single mother, working almost every night,” she writes. “I teach in the afternoon and many times I have recordings. I wake up, take my son to school and go back to sleep. I wake up again, do lunch, and sometimes give piano and singing lessons. Then part of my afternoon is taking care of my son. Then off to work.” That makes for a particularly packed schedule. “It is hard to be father and mother [at the same time],” Ariacne adds.
This is still a man’s world, she explains. So, it’s all the more impressive that Ariacne, not unlike many other vibrant female players in New York City, has managed to make a name for herself as a Latina musician around so many accomplished male performers. “It is so satisfying when [men] count you as another musician, and not a fragile girl who is trying to stand up,” she reveals. “It is great when you realize you are part of the wolfs’ pack.”
For the last two years, the Cuban musician has been performing with her trio at the midtown Cuban restaurant Guantanamera where she holds a weekly residency. Her trio features two very successful musicians on the NYC scene: Greek bassist Panagiotis Andreou and Cuban percussionist Mauricio Herrera. Ariacne has been playing with them for more than ten years. “Mauricio brings all the Afro-Cuban flavor while Andreas brings his amazing melismas and Oriental harmony,” she explains.
Ariacne has also been working with percussionist Pedrito Martinez for many years. Before appearing with her trio at Guantanamera, she was performing with Pedrito. They started at the venue in 2005. Pedrito is one of the most in-demand percussionists in New York City. “Playing with Pedrito has been one of the strongest experience I have had,” Ariacne says. “Everyone has grown up in the band. My solos have gotten better, my tumbaos are fuller and more rhythmically accentuated. Playing with Pedrito has defined my style.”