“There’s racism in Cuba,” she tells Billboard, referring to people in the industry who’d ask her to straighten her natural afro or say she would not succeed because she was not white.
“Sadly, the rejection comes from our own community,” she continues. “People would rather look elsewhere than look within their roots. I suffered a lot, but it only made me stronger. My self-esteem has always been very high and I have not been paranoid to believe that everything that happens to me or not is due to my skin color.”
Though she respects the term Afro-Latino, Nuviola feels more comfortable being called a Black woman. “I have always said that for me, saying ‘Afro’ is not as meaningful as saying Black, mulatto, or mestizo. In Cuba, I’m often called mulatta or negrita. It depends on the way it’s said to me, but I don’t see it as something offensive,” she says.
Migrating to Miami in June 2004, Nuviola got a sense of coexisting with the Latino community and it’s through her music — which fuses timba, son, salsa, jazz, and other rhythms — that Nuviola has managed to proudly take her Cuban roots to the masses.
“Our music has always had Afro elements present, whether it’s guaracha, chachacha, mambo — it’s inevitable and it’s part of our culture. We are a mestizo island,” she notes. “Cuban music has influenced music around the world, and even though we’re a small island, we’ve exported more than 33 musical genres. We have so much to offer.”
With her Grammy-nominated set, Viento Y Tiempo, which includes innovative versions of “El Manisero” and “Bemba Colorá,” Nuviola continues to count her blessings.
“Being an immigrant and crossing the border was very difficult for me. I was in the immigration jail with other Latinas who told me very sad stories,” she recalls. “All that touched my heart and I left there with all the desire to move forward and create my own path. Until this day, I feel grateful for all of the opportunities.”