Ileana Santamaria

Cuban-born Ileana Santamar-a grew up in a musical household with a dream to carry on the legacy of her father, Cuban percussionist and Latin Jazz pioneer Ramón “Mongo” Santamar-a. If this dream was certainly nurtured by her father’s sterling example of what remarkable fruits the dedication and commitment to making music professionally can bear, it was also helped to flourish by Ileana’s music loving mother’s efforts to take her young daughter to Cuba year after year, to allow Ileana’s soul to take root in the musical traditions of a native land that, without those trips, would otherwise have been as good as foreign soil. Thus Ileana “Junior” forged a lifelong connection with Cuban rhythms, songs, dances, and Santeria chants, to street rumbas and Yoruba dance while already in her teens.

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