Melena born in Havana, Cuba is an accomplished percussionist and educator of Afro Cuban music. Her Afro-Cuban sound is a conversation of melodies that she plays with fierce passion. Melena is a multi-talented percussionist who plays congas, timbales, bata drums, and shekere. She is an artist who exemplifies the sound of legendary players from the past, while combining the modern sounds of today. Melena is proud to be endorsed by LP, Remo, Sabian, and Vic Firth .
Melena studied ethnomusicology at UCLA, where she received her B.A. and M.A. degrees, graduating with honors. Her research was on “The Influence of Abakuá music in Cuban Rumba,” which focuses on how Abakuá music and the manner in which it has inspired the creation of new musical genres are frequently neglected. She conducts Master Classes and lectures nationwide at Universities on the African diaspora in Cuba and socio- religious influences of the Afro Cuban heritages, rhythms and their impact on popular Cuban music.
She also offers courses for non profit organizations on the African diaspora in Cuba, and cultural identity.
Melena is continuing her studies on the survival of African religious traditions in Cuba independently with mentors Ramon Zayas Torres and Frank Oropesa among others.
Melena fronts her own Afro Cuban Jazz and Salsa band performing nationwide. Her Afro Cuban Jazz sound is expressed from a five to six piece instrumental band with an enticing sound and multi-layers of rhythmic and melodic ideas. Her larger 8 to 10 piece Cuban Salsa band features original compostions that will keep you on the dance floor.
Melena also has experience with special needs children and at risk youth, having worked at the Braille Institute (Los Angeles), Camp David Gonzalez and Barry J. Nordof juvenile halls.
Melena offers drum therapy classes at Kensingotn and Silverado living asissted homes for the elderly. Her drum therapy classes teaching latin rhythsm percussion and dance such as : cha cha cha, mambo and afro cuban. jazz. The elderly learn to have fun playing percussion such as maracas, sherkere, bongo and conga drums. Her classes also include cultural and music history lectures with performance demonstrations.
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