La Dame Blanche
About La Dame Blanche
With her explosive and discriminating mix of hip-hop, cumbia, dancehall, and reggae, the Cuban singer, flautist, and percussionist Yaite Ramos Rodriguez, aka La Dame Blanche, delivers a powerful hybrid of sound, international spirit, and Latin innovation. She calls it "hip-hop-urbano-Cubano." Dividing her time between Paris and the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba, the singer and instrumentalist has released a string of international club bangers, from her self-titled debut EP in 2014 and its dancefloor smash "La Revancha," through the sub-bass-drenched dancehall-cum-cumbia of 2015's "Cuba" with Flaco Nunez (Orishas), and the house-propelled son of 2016's "Esta Noche" remix by Danochilango. With albums such as 2017's Bajo el Mismo Cielo and 2020's Ella, La Dame Blanche explored the cultural, political, social, and economic aspects of life as an Afro-Cuban woman in the 21st century. Her stage performances have won over audiences throughout Latin America, Europe, and the United States not only in clubs but at music festivals including WOMEX.
Rodriguez was born into a musical family in Havana. Her father is trombonist Jesús "Aguaje" Ramos (bandleader of the Buena Vista Social Club Orchestra) and her uncle is Mayito Rivera, one of Cuba's most beloved singers and the former lead vocalist of Los Van Van. She studied music throughout grade school and undertook extensive formal classical flute training at Pinar del Rio School of Music and later, Havana's Escuela Nacional de Arte de Cuba. All the while, she regularly played alongside her father, but as her own tastes began to assert themselves, she developed a solo act saturated in urban rhythms, production, cadences, and vernaculars he found difficult to embrace. In an interview she was asked whether she deliberately rebelled against him. Her reply? "The key to my rebellion was love."
After graduating, Rodriguez relocated to Paris, and developed her hip-hop flow as a busker on city streets. She took her stage name from the ghost in François-Adrien Boieldieu's opera of the same name. Her 2014 self-titled EP offered "El Revancha" as its lead single and featured the talents of Emiliano Gómez (El Hijo de la Cumbia). Her debut full-length, Piratas, followed a few months later, produced by Marc Damble, aka Babylotion (Amadou & Mariam, Orishas), and El Hijo de la Cumbia. In addition to "La Revenacha," it included the club smashes "Overdosi" (featuring MC Brian Leon) and the rolling, hard-grooved cumbia-hop shuffle "Despertando Espiritus." La Dame Blanche traveled Europe playing large clubs and festivals across the continent before taking her act back to Cuba, where she resumed a partial residence.
While her tracks gained sharp notice from DJs across the globe, Rodriguez reentered the studio with her production team and emerged with Dame Blanche 2 in 2016 on Germany's Tropical Diaspora Records. Its first two tracks, "Kikiriki" and "Romantica," were accompanied by videos; the aforementioned single "Cuba" proved a highlight, as did the slamming tropical hip-hop of "A Partir de 18" featuring Bionik and the dubwise classicism of "Traka" featuring Jose Luis el Niño. Through word of mouth, social media, and touring, Dame Blanche 2 took off to the extent that it inspired an entire collection of remixes with DJs and producers ranging from Andres Digital to Punto Rojo and Voodoo Dred. Forming a live unit with Babylotion and drummer/clarinetist Pierre Mangeard, she toured Europe, played New York City's Summerstage, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara (Mexico), Ariano Folk Festival (Italy), Festival Shambala (U.K.), and Wild Mint Festival (Russia).
In late 2017, La Dame Blanche signed to Nacional Records and began work on her third album, with Babylotion again in the producer's chair. The finished set, Bajo el Mismo Cielo ("Under the Same Sky"), was rife with collaborations signifying to La Dame Blanche "human encounters, friendship, and respect" in a mix of Cuban roots, Latin jazz, hip-hop, trap, cumbia, rap, and electronic music. Mexican duo Celso Piña and Serko Fu were featured on its first single and video, "Dos Caras," while the title track offered the classical guitar and vocal stylings of world-renowned nuevo flamenco master Sergio Aguilera. Other highlights included the electro-house Pan-Africanism of "Mentira" featuring Batuk's lead vocalist Manteira, while "No Puedo Loco" was a collabo with countryman and fellow Paris resident Nelson Palacios. Bajo el Mismo Cielo was issued in the early summer of 2018, after La Dame Blanche appeared on the WOMEX stage at SXSW Music Conference and the WOMEX Festival in Katowice, Poland, as part of a world tour.
In September 2020, the artist issued the ten-track full-length Ella for Nacional. Named after the album's muse, her mother, it was intended as a celebration of all things female, from its title and artwork to its track list. ~ Thom Jurek