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Live Video from the WRTI Performance Studio: Mother/Son Artists Xiomara Laugart and Axel Tosca

The celebrated dynamic duo of Cuban-born pianist Axel Tosca and his vocalist mother, Xiomara Laugart, known as the "Voice of Cuba," visit with J. Michael Harrison in the WRTI Performance Studio on Friday, October 18th at 4 PM in advance of their highly anticipated return to @Exuberance.

They have a connection that far exceeds the normal mother/son relationship.  And together, they thrilled a Philadelphia audience during a performance last year.  

Axel was given a guitar as a small child and latched on to the piano as well by the time he was 7 years old. Shortly after, he started performing with his parents.  When he wasn't learning on-stage with his parents, Axel was learning from Miriam Valdez in school who happened to be the daughter of the great pianist Bebo and Chucho Valdez.

These opportunities positioned him to win several piano competitions in Cuba.  He moved to the United States in 2005 as part of the Havana Nights revue that played for two years at the world-fames Stardust Casino and Resort, in Las Vegas.  He continued his education at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.

Axel released an album in 2016 and feature an all-star lineup that included his mother Xiomara, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Keyon Harrold, James Genus, Ron Blake and Luisito Quintero and others.  He can also be heard as a part of the group (U)nity on their Ropeadope records release titled (U)nity is Power.

Those who have entered Cuba through Jose Marti International Airport in Havana will know that upon arrival, they are greeted by beautiful video images of Old Havana on TV screens and the sultry voice of Xiomara Laugart singing "Hoy mi Habana".  This is not a coincidence. Xiomara is known as the "Voice of Cuba." She has been representing her country and her people at venues around the world for over 30 years with the greatest of international talent.  She is a living legend in her native Cuba.

At the turn of the millenium, Xiomara moved to New York City and became the lead vocalist of the band Yerba Buena. The group received a Grammy nomination in 2003 for their first album President Alien.  Music from the album can be heard in the film Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and in Pepsi commercials.

In 2007, Xiomara left Yerba Buena and embarked on an adventure that held the enormous responsibility of representing one of the most important figures in Latin culture, Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa Music, in the first ever theatre production of CELIA: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz.

The dynamic of this mother/son duo will be truly exuberant!

J. Michael Harrison’s first radio show, WPEB’s “Is That Jazz” launched in June of 1993. In 1994 he began volunteering with WRTI as a production assistant. In 1996, J. Michael debuted his own program, The Bridge, which continues to air Friday evenings on WRTI.