Yocahuna spent his youth growing up in Jamaica where his father first bought him a traditional Spanish guitar when he was 12 years old, a short time after he had partly recovered from paralysis by polio. After experimenting with other guitars he returned to the preferred sound of a nylon-strung acoustic, in particular a very deep-bodied Brazilian style instrument, custom made for him by his brother.
He has since spent time living on 4 continents and visited and worked in many countries. As a result, his musical style is influenced by genres as varied as Flamenco, Reggae, African folk and Bossa Nova. He finds it hard to pigeonhole his music, and so do his reviewers. But when you listen you will find distinct flavors of R&B and Soul as well as Rap and Hip-Hop beats added to the mix of exotic world spices already mentioned.
He considers himself first and foremost a songwriter. He is now unable to perform much more than a single track live because of the result of post-polio syndrome and two serious right hand injuries, but any track should reveal the fact that he has quite a few unusual and interesting fingering techniques at his disposal. The comments included with each song reveal the wide variety of musicians or guitarists that have contributed to the way his hands do their own thing.
As a result of his impediment he usually works alone in his studio where there are virtually no limitations to his recording, quilting and mixing the music that you will find in his repertoire - songs that he intends others to discover and play.
Yocahuna is self-taught and plays by ear, with what he calls "shapes" (chords) that are often unconventional. Until 2003, when he was encouraged to put some poems to music, he had not written his own songs or tunes. Since then he has played only his own material.
Sound effects have become somewhat of a trademark in YoCaHuNa MuSiC, especially in lighter or spoof tracks.
A citizen of the USA, Canada and Britain, Yocahuna lives in Florida.
Yocahuna was the name the Arawak Indians of the Caribbean used for the spirit of creativity, especially the wind (friendly and beneficial) and the spirit of music, as opposed to the destroyer wind Harakan (a name also used by ancient Mayans, and the origin of the word hurricane). The term has a melodious lilt (yoh-kah-hoo-nah) and it may well have been the Arawak everyday word for a pleasant breeze or harmonic melody.
The Arawaks were pacifists and enjoyed the creative fine arts of music, weaving and pottery, whereas the Carib Indians were a warlike people; raiders, known to practise cannibalism. It is likely that Friday, rescued by Robinson Crusoe (based on the real marooned sailor, Alexander Selkirk) was an Arawak captured by Caribs.
YoCaHuNa MuSiC is dedicated to producing high quality melodies, words you can hear and tunes that exhibit the instruments with clarity. Most of the lyrics are primarily written with someone specific in mind, not simply the result of writing with the intent to pen yet another song for its own sake but rather triggered by a desire to offer some form of tribute or thanks. But of course, you are sure to find some off-the-wall and fun tunes in there too!
As a songwriter, Yocahuna's original intent was simply to present the songs for others to perform, but the need to demonstrate their potential led to preliminary samples and demos, and then to complete CDs. These may not be exactly the way Yocahuna first "heard" them in his head, or as he imagines some of his favorite musicians playing them. They are merely his take and flavor to the best of his abilities and instrumental skills.
But once again, that is not the primary aim. He write for others to really deliver the goods, especially those musicians who can rip it out on a stage with "duende" (flamenco term for heart and soul, fire and magic).
The ancient name Yocahuna or Iocauna is very rare, appearing only in Caribbean archaeology. It is also the name found on the label inside a vintage acoustic guitar which you will hear somewhere in every Yocahuna music track. This was made for him by his brother, a fine furniture maker who experimented in making just three guitars. Truly a one-of-a-kind instrument, it is Brazilian in style with an unusually deep body and tone. Yocahuna tunes it to E flat (all 6 strings a semitone below standard), this being its premium setting for enhanced resonance without loss of clarity.
It is made of the finest, close-grained, clear spruce face, African mahogany back and sides, Indian rosewood fret-board, Central American cocobolo rosewood bridge and individual ivory saddles for each string. The original tuners were tapered ebony pegs placed directly through the head, like those of a violin. Later, geared tuners were installed but modified to re-use half of each peg to maintain the traditional feel. The ribs inside the body are arranged in a unique fan shape not found in any other guitar and every single one of them is hollowed with slotted holes to make the guitar very light.
Yocahuna uses a mixture of low-tension strings on this guitar: Hannabach SLT Flamenco silver wound basses and either Hannabach SLT gold trebles or La Bella 2001F_LT Flamenco black trebles, which he obtains from Strings By Mail (see Links page).
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