Rising Music Star Aymée Nuviola: “I would love for women in this industry to be highlighted by their talents, not just their appearance”

I would love to start a movement where women can support each other within the music industry. It is a male-dominated industry, and I would love for women to be highlighted by their talents, not just their appearance. It would be great to watch an award show and/or hear the radio where women are equally […]

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I would love to start a movement where women can support each other within the music industry. It is a male-dominated industry, and I would love for women to be highlighted by their talents, not just their appearance. It would be great to watch an award show and/or hear the radio where women are equally represented.

As part of my series featuring the rising stars in the music industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aymée Nuviola. Aymée was born into a musical family and fell in love with a variety of genres when attending a renowned music school in Cuba. Known as “The Improvisor of the World,” Aymée’s music emerges from her love of creating art and important events in her life. She is a classically trained musician, singer, and actress, playing the role of lead adult Celia Cruz in Telemundo’s soap opera, “Celia!” In 2018, Aymée was awarded her first Latin Grammy for Best Tropical Fusion Album for “Como Anillo Al Dedo.” In 2019, Aymée is releasing her documentary “A Journey Through Cuban Music” to showcase traditional Cuban music from different genres and eras.

Thank you so much for joining us Aymée! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up surrounded by music, as my mother played the piano, and my father was a musician. From an early age, I learned how to play the piano and went to school at the music conservatory in Havana, Cuba.

Since I was a little girl, I fell in love with music, and I knew that’s what I was going to do with my life. I started my career alongside my sister, and we were known as the “Nuviola Sisters.” We traveled to various countries until I finally made my way to the United States. My sister decided to concentrate on teaching music, and I continued my career.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?

I lived one of my most exciting moments last year while working on my album and documentary, “A Journey Through Cuban Music.” First, we went back to my hometown, Havana to record the album at the Abdala Studios, one of the greatest studios in my hometown. I had the pleasure to work with some of the top Cuban musicians and singers that are both colleagues and friends. We also embarked on a two-week journey across Cuba to visit the birthplace of genres, and I was able to interact and even perform with locals and musicians alike. While in Viñales, I was overcome with emotion, as I was being interviewed for the documentary. Not because I was sad, but because I felt so proud of the project and only wish my mother could still be alive to see it happening.

Another great moment, was once we were in the post-production portion of our project, I got word that I was nominated for a Latin Grammy for my previous project “Como Anillo Al Dedo.” After a whirlwind of events, it all culminated with my first Latin Grammy win, which to this date is one of my greatest achievements in my career.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

It had been such a pleasure to be working on my “A Journey Through Cuban Music” project. For months we visited Havana to record the album, alongside some of the top artists in Cuba. We not only recorded an album, but we also recorded a documentary. The documentary is much more than just a making of the album. We went on a literal journey across the island to visit the people of different regions of the island, where we spoke with locals, musicians, luthiers, and musicologist that shared with us the history and importance of our Cuban music. Cuba has exported around 33 genres to the world, and we want to share the history of them with the world.

While we work on the documentary and wait for its release, I am awaiting a big first in my career. I’ll be performing several concerts in Tokyo alongside world-renowned pianist, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, where we will be performing music we have recorded together including songs from my latest project. I’m excited to perform for a Japanese audience for the first time. Upon my return, I will also be performing at the Curacao North Sea Jazz Fest.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Two of the most interesting people I have interacted with were both my teachers. The first was my History teacher, she would wear a different hairstyle every week, and she would share with us a list of what she had to do to make sure the hairstyle lasted all week. Her playfulness is something that stays with me to this date.

The second teacher was my music history professor. He would come to class with a lit cigar and a flask, that we all believed was full of rum. He would speak about music differently than the rest of the professors. He would also share his anecdotes with great musicians, that had us all amazed by him. He had a clever way of teaching us and made sure he kept us interested.

Both these teachers inspired me to continue my career and helped shape who I am today.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

Martin Luther King has inspired me the most, and I have the utmost respect for his efforts and his memory. He was the leader and opened the path for African Americans to fight for their rights. His “I have a dream” speech, is one that is known around the world and continues to hold true today.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I try to give back as much as possible. As artists, we have a voice that can reach a broad audience, and it’s important to lead by example. I try to give my time to participate in telethons, during Hurricane Maria I alongside my record label gave and gathered donations for the people of Puerto Rico, and we made two trips to take supplies to the island. After the tornado in Cuba earlier this year, we again went to the island to help those in need.

I also like to think that my music brings goodness to the world, when anyone feels down or needs a pick me up, they can turn on my music and dance.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to start a movement where women can support each other within the music industry. It is a male-dominated industry, and I would love for women to be highlighted by their talents, not just their appearance. It would be great to watch an award show and/or hear the radio where women are equally represented.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

For anyone that wants to strive in the music industry and not “burn out,” I recommend having discipline and humility. It is important to give it your all with full passion and make sure you feel that passion. It’s not an easy industry to be a part of, so it’s important to make sure it’s what you want to be doing.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

There are many lessons I’ve learned throughout my life and career.

First, I wish my parents would’ve taught me about God and religion, instead of growing up believing that everything depended solely on my efforts. Now with my faith, I know it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but that some things are out of my control.

Second, I wish I was told that love hurts, but that it is also a blessing. The music industry can be a lonely place, as many of those who surround you are not necessarily looking after your best interests. It took me many years, but life brought me real love and a great partner to take on the industry with, my husband, Paulo.

Third, I wish someone told me how much it hurt to lose a parent. When my mother passed away, I felt that a piece of me had gone with her, that my life has no meaning. It happened months after coming to the states. With time, the pain is certainly still there, but I smile through the memories and being able to share stories with my husband, family, and friends to keep her memory alive. I only wish she was alive to see my new project honoring the Cuban Music that I feel also honors her memory.

Fourth, I wish I was told how difficult it was to make it in another country and be far from your family. I had left Cuba various times to perform in different countries in the world, but it certainly wasn’t easy leaving Havana for good. I had to leave loved ones behind, including my father. While crossing the Mexican border into the US, I was even detained by immigration for weeks.

Fifth, this is a lesson I learned on my own, and wish it was something everyone would learn. It’s simply to help others. During many times in my life, I’ve seen so many people who need help, and at other times in my life, I’ve been the person that needs help. One time that stands out was when I was detained after entering the US border. I saw people who preferred to be detained than be in their home country because it meant they had a place to sleep and have food. I felt the need to share what little I had with those around me. A little bit of money, food from a vending machine, a soda, a few words of wisdom, and faith. Many knew my music, and I would sing to them. To this day, I still stay in touch with some of them. This is a lesson we all should learn, as I felt that sometimes we don’t value what we have and that we go through life without realizing that there are so many people out there living in constant pain. It reminds me of a phrase by Cuban Poet, Jose Martí, “The sun has spots (stains), the ungrateful see the spots (stains), while the grateful see the light.”

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have a meal with Lionel Richie. I’d love to ask him what inspired his beautiful songs, to tell me about his life, and to just share music. It would be a great time speaking about music and possibly even singing together. I feel that music unites people, and that’s what our lunch would be: A musical journey!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find me on Instagram: @Ayméenuviolaofficial and on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube: Aymée Nuviola.

Thank you for these great insights. This was very inspiring!

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