From a political standpoint (stemming back to the ’60s), the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba has been strained to say the least. But culturally and artistically speaking, this isn’t the case at all. We enjoy a mutually beneficial exchange that has enriched our overall way of life. The strongest bond, however, is rooted in music. From rumba to salsa to Afro-Cuban jazz, Cuban music has been hugely influential. This rich heritage inspired esteemed bandleader Ray Chew and his wife Vivian Scott Chew to create a musical love letter to the Latin island with Two Beats, One Soul.
The couple, along with partners Mark Grier and his wife Kathy Grier, serve as executive producers of Two Beats, One Soul, which was released through their RVMK Records label. According to press, the album “celebrates and explores the evolution of two cultures focused on Cuba’s impact on worldwide music by recreating traditional Cuban sounds and rhythms in today’s musical landscape.” To ensure an authentic sound, all of the songs are either co-written or co-produced by Cuban artists. And while each of the 13 tracks gives a different taste of the island’s many musical flavors, the common theme of unity echoes throughout the collection.
The Louie Vega-produced lead single “The World is a Family” embraces this ideal with uplifting lyrics and soulful vocals by Josh Milan. The Cuban influence can be heard throughout the vibrant instrumentals of the infectious track. In the same vein, the colorful lyric video features scenes of Cuban life while matching the song’s energy. The track has been so well received that it has now been released as an eleven-track EP with various remixes and instrumentals. Peep the lyric video for “The World Is A Family” below, then work up a sweat to the “AfroHouse Mix.”
The cross-cultural project also features vocals from Eric Benét, Jon B., Shaggy, Red Fox, Jean Rodriguez, Anané and a variety of Cuban artists. In addition to Ray Chew and Louie Vega, producers Sergio George and Cuba’s own Manolito Simonet contributed songs as well. To top it all off, a documentary directed by Billie Woodruff will be released in support of the album. Check out the album trailer below as well, purchase a copy of Two Beats, One Soul and visit the website to learn more about the project and get updates on the documentary release.