Four decades of the Fusion Queen
It is hard to explain, but when you’re close to singer and songwriter Xiomara Fortuna, you can feel her strong personality surrounding yourself and filling the entire place. I felt that when we met at his colonial house in Gazgue. Her powerful but balanced temperament reminded me, by her style and her background, of the writer Tony Morrison, one of the most influential voices in favor of civil rights.
She was a very kind host and offered me some coffee, and cookies before we started. It was needed to wake up both of our moods and our senses, before addressing the questions that I calmly began to ask her. “How does it feel, when after forty years people call you the fusion queen?”, I asked. "It's a huge satisfaction I cannot deny it", she said.
She is a freedom believer, an Afro-Dominican and composer woman, in a segregated, sexualized, and racist world, that has become a symbol of seeding fullness life. According to her, she is a germ planted by her grandmother in the city where she was born, Monte Cristi, in the sixties. She says her grandmother encouraged her to be the best example of the neighborhood. So, that young girl raised in a large family of eight brothers had a childhood of strong values, self-denial, and sacrifice. "I remember that even when we had to get vaccinated, she used to set me first as an example to the rest so the rest of them would lose their fears."
Her grandfather was Spanish, and her grandmother African. Xiomara was blessed with the best of both cultures, but, especially, with a deep voice, and a powerful and exceptional interpretative quality, which prompted her to develop an artistic career of forty years, backed by her professionalism and social commitment. The story began when she was in eighth grade, and the teacher asked her what she aspired to be when she grew up, and she firmly said she wanted to be an artist. The next step would be at eighteen when she left Monte Cristi and moved away from the clock in the central park, where she used to take a trip to adventures that at that time were involved in political factors. "In the middle of the revolution of June 1965, I remember people sending secret information to each other, the lack of freedom to speak, the murmurs, and fear."
Her first trip was reduced to some solidarity acts with the Cuba songs, but it had more exciting experiences than she imagined. “I had never left my city before, but this trip allowed me to travel by plane, by train, by boat, and even to get to know Jamaica. This short episode showed me how my future was going to be. I understood that art is art, no matter how you present it.”
Although she had a crush with Architecture, she decided to studied Advertising Arts at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, but her interest in Art History makes her a self-taught of this academic area. “I think faith put June Rosenberg on my way. She is a leading anthropologist and professor that took me to know Los Palos and El Gagá, which deeply marked me and set a new course in my life.”
She begins to sing new trova at the university, and a Song Festival let her share the National Theater stage with the famous Sonia Silvestre, Jorge Taveras, and Bienvenido Bustamante. The huge success of her powerful voice that reminded people of Rhina Ramírez, who was living abroad, puts her as a new piece on a game that she joins having a leading role.
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TEXT: Alana Fernandez; IMAGES: Archivos
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