Ana Carla Marza Electrifies Sheffield with ‘Caribe’: A Vibrant Journey Through Afro-Cuban and Latin American Sounds

Ana Carla Marza performed ‘Caribe’ at Sheffield’s Firth Court to a sold out audience in collaboration with Talking Gigs. Her self-produced album, featuring a dynamic brass-heavy sextet, is a nostalgic nod to the Afro-Cuban descarga jams of the 1950s. It seamlessly blends the rumbas of the Caribbean, the tangos of Argentina, and the rhythms of Brazilian bossa-jazz and samba, creating a rich tapestry of sound that is both timeless and innovative. 

With over 150 concerts performed in 2022, Ana Carla Maza’s electrifying presence and profound musicality continue to captivate audiences around the globe, making her a beacon of cultural reconnection and artistic freedom.

5678 Magazine in conversation with Ana Carla Marza:

5678: I read that you were the sole composer of your latest album ‘Caribe.’ 

Ana: In Latin music, women sing, and men do everything else. I decided to approach this new record without a music producer. I arrived in the studio with all the scores, written for a sextet, instrument by instrument. I have a classical background, I can play Brahms or Shostakovich, whose music is complicated. So why not take on a new challenge: entirely produce a Latin album that reflects my feminine sensitivity, my desire for positive celebration of the here and now, of ‘alegria’, spontaneous joy.

5678: Would you say your Latin background has giving you inspiration for some of your musical compositions?

Ana: I was recently in Cuba, and there is always music playing. My family is full of musicians. Latin culture is; joy, passion, love, and motivation. We are very generous and live life in its simplest form. Imagination is actually very important. I remember my piano teacher in Cuba, I used to go to her house to practice. She always thought me feminise sensation, how to play with your body, how to feel, how to listen to your emotions. In Cuba we need the imagination. My teachers didn’t have a printer so she was written all the scores by hand to give to her students.

5678: You trained as a classical cellist. What drew you to exploring different musical genres which led you to play with your current band.

Ana: The first time I heard a cello playing it sounded so beautiful, I was emotional, the sheer intensity of the instrument. I fell in love with the cello it takes a lot of sacrifice to play it. From practice, to auditions, and competitions. It’s very tough and takes many years to perfect this skill. For me it was always very natural to experiment and mix genres, because that made me happy. I love the idea of composing without barriers. It’s freeing.

5678: Would you say you have influences in your music and compositions from other Latin American countries?

Ana: Yes, there is Caribe, merengue, and reggae music which all sound different and have various rhythms and styles. For me my ideal wish was to conduct music that tells a colourful story and is rich in flavours. It’s like being a child open to curiosity and wonder.

5678: How many gigs have you played on this tour so far?

Ana: We have played over 150 gigs around the world. Every city and audience is different. It’s electrifying playing my music with my band and seeing the positive responses of audiences. I’m excited to be in Sheffield today. It’s my first time here.

5678: How are you managing such an extensive schedule touring around the world?

Ana: Because it’s my dream. It’s what drives me and gives me energy every day. I wake up in the morning grateful for the fact that I am able to share my passion for music through my job. I’m very lucky to have that opportunity. As long as I can play music and perform I will keep going until I’m 80. Let’s see.

WATCH: Ana Carla Marza performs at Sheffield’s Firth Court

5678: From a women’s perspective what challenges do women face in music and Cuba, and how does that impact the opportunities you get in the industry? 

Ana: I think the world of women in music now is very difficult especially when you’re starting out. For example, in Cuba only a small percentage of women are conducting music or play instruments in an orchestra. We have to work extra hard to be taken seriously and to get a foot through the door. But, we love what we do. Our passion and determination is what keeps us going.

What does the future hold for Ana Carla Marza and are you in the position to shape your future?

Ana: I think I will play music all my life until I’m eighty-nine years old. I have a very healthy life, I don’t drink, or smoke. I sleep well, and do sports regularly. All these good habits will hopefully give me the longevity to continue and evolve throughout my musical career.

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Written by: Maximilian Jenz
Maximilian Jenz, 5678's website and podcast editor. He previously interned at the Guardian, ITV, and Reuters.