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NaldinYo leads the way Taking soca to latin america

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Claudio Jose Luces Smith aka NaldinYo, poses with radio personality Raul Martinez of Radio Azul 95.9FM after an interview in Estado Vargas, La Guaira, Venezuela.

Music artiste Claudio Jose Luces Smith was born in Venezuela to Trinidadian parents. Growing up in both countries didn’t only make him bilingual, but also ignited a passion within him for cultural exchange. Earlier this year, Smith, who performs under the name NaldinYo, released his first single, Baila en La Calle. He also launched his organisation NaldinYo & the Latin Conexion which will focus on building structured cultural exchange programmes between Venezuela and T&T. Although Smith is the headline singer with the band Soca Sabor, he released Baila en La Calle solo. Baila en La Calle is a “Latin Soca” or “socalsa” according to Smith. Socalsa is blended genre of soca and salsa. Smith wants to use his music to continue to forge ties between Venezuela and T&T. Smith plans to enter Baila en La Calle in the 2014 Soca Monarch competition and following the Carnival season he will release more music including his own genre “soca-rengue” which blends soca and merengue. 


In November, Smith, who also works as a Spanish interpreter and translator, travelled to Venezuela to promote his new music. He visited seven states in Venezuela and was interviewed on radio. 
Smith said in a telephone interview that he is on a “mission to promote Trinbago soca in Venezuela.” Smith said he sees his work and music as carrying on his parents’ legacy. According to Smith, his mother Claudia Smith won the first calypso competition in Cuidad Guyana. His mother, who he credits as his greatest inspiration was also the lead singer of a fusion band, The Uptights. His father, Felix Jose Luces Farias, was the musical arranger and band leader for Steel Pan Guyana, also based in Cuidad Guyana, during the 1970s. Another inspiration to Smith, is Cuban salsa singer Celia Cruz. Smith said growing, listening and dancing to her music left a lasting impression on him. Music is just one aspect of Smith’s cultural exchange plans. His organisation  has a list of proposed programmes for 2014. Latin Conexion is a network of people based in T&T, the Caribbean and Latin America. The organisation will serve as a means to share information about events and news in these countries, as well as organise events. 


The first project is a Latin Expo scheduled for the National Academy for Performing Arts next year. Smith is currently working with the Argentinian Embassy in T&T to host the event. The expo will give space to embassies from Latin American countries in T&T to highlight their culture. Smith is also planning on working with various Government ministries to develop Ven-TT, which he describes as a structured cultural exchange programme between Venezuela and T&T. Although the two countries do share certain aspects of culture, Smith believes there needs to be a more stringent, detailed exchange happening between the two countries. “What we have now is not structured and done in a haphazard way. I want to get the Government involved where we can appreciate our cultures and not drop off in a few years based on the persons who are involved,” he said. 


Ven-TT will include workshops, concerts and school programmes with musicians, dancers and artists taking place in both T&T and Venezuela. The Latin Conexion will also be working with music producer Simon Mendoza, keyboardist with rapso group 3canal, to expand his Latin radio programme in T&T. Smith also said the cultural exchange went beyond music. “Venezuela is closer to Trinidad than Tobago so having that co-operation will work for us. We can better understand each other in times of crisis. It’s a matter of will power and personal goals. Learning another language is like a life skill and having that capacity and ability could help save a life.”


To listen to Smith’s music you can visit his YouTube Channel: Naldin Yo or find him on Facebook under: Naldin Yo.


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