Tag Archives: Haiti

Artist Profiles: Foula Vodoule

Foula Vodoule

Foula Vodoule is a Haitian band that has been playing traditional music since 1978. Unique in style and presentation, Foula Vodoule combines the sound of wind instruments like the kone (long tin horns) and Vaccins (bamboo horns), drums, xylophone and vocals to create a tone that is rich, diverse and melodic.

Foula Vodoule is one of Haiti’s most popular Rara band, taking to the streets of Port-Au-Prince during the traditional Rara period (Fat Tuesday to Easter Sunday). Foula Vodoule draws several thousand people who dance alongside them as they march through the streets of the capital.

Jean-Raymond Giglio and Wilfrid “Tido” Lavaud who founded the group have researched Voodoo rhythms for more than twenty years. They have incorporated their country’s traditional rhythms with elements of jazz and rock &roll.

Foula Vodoule has performed in many clubs and in music festivals throughout Haiti. Every year they are part of the annual Carnival celebration. One of the country’s most popular annual music festival, Jama, always gives Foula Vodoule top billing. The band also participated in Bouyon Rasin which was the first Haitian national event ever to feature Vodou inspired groups.

When the group is not rehearsing or performing, members can be found producing stunning Haitian paintings, unusual sequined art and traditional instruments. The crafts and instruments are sold locally and abroad.

Foula Vodoule is committed to sharing its cultural heritage and music as much and as far away as possible. Their very first album entitled Ede Ti Moun Yo / Help The Children was released in February 1999.


Artist Profiles: Emeline Michel

Emeline Michel at Motorco – Photo by Angel Romero

Emeline Michel is oene the leading female vocalists from Haiti. A captivating performer, versatile vocalist, accomplished dancer, songwriter and producer. She has recorded and appeared on concert stages throughout the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and Africa for the past 15 years. Singing both in French and Haitian Creole, her CDs Douvanjou ka leve (May the Sun Rise), Pa gen manti nan sa (There’s No Doubt), Rhum &Flamme (Rum &Flame), Tout Mon Temps (All My Time), The Very Best, and Ban’m pase (Let Me Pass) catapulted her to international acclaim.

Emeline Michel is beloved by Haitians for combining traditional rhythms with social, political and inspirational content. She is a member of a new generation of Haitian musicians which also includes guitarist/vocalist Beethova Obas and the bands Boukman Eksperyans and Boukan Ginen. In contrast to most contemporary Haitian music, this new wave of artists emphasize complex themes, conscious lyrics, and a broad palette of musical styles, including the native Haitian compas and rara along with jazz, rock, bossa nova and samba.

Born in Gonaives, Haiti, her first experience in music was singing gospel music at the local church. After completing her education, Emeline accepted an opportunity to study at the Detroit Jazz Center and returned to Haiti as a professional musician. Emeline soon released her first album Douvanjou ka leve (May the Sun Rise) which featured the hit “Plezi Mize” (Pleasure in Misery) written by Beethova Obas.

Subsequent releases “Tankou melodi”(Like a Melody) and “Flanm” (Flame) established her as one of the top artists in Haiti and the French Antilles (the nearby islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe) and she was soon hailed as the “new goddess of Creole music”.

Relocating to France, she became a leading musical icon, performing at venues such as the Jazz Festival of Nice and Theatre de la Ville, making numerous appearances on French television and gracing the covers of many fashion and culture magazines.

From her base in France, Emeline’s work quickly spread throughout the french-speaking world, including Belgium, Africa, French Antilles, French Guiana and Quebec. From the album Tout Mon Temps (All My Time) came her international smash hit “A-K-I-K-O”. While set to an infectious dance groove, the song call’s for Haiti to look past the political turmoil that has recently gripped the nation and to return to a time of innocence and joy.

After signing to a Montreal record label she began a high profile five years as one of the leading young female vocalists working in Quebec and a regular act for Canadian festivals, radio and television. In 1996, she released the album Ban’m Pase (Let Me Pass), a CD which showcased her developing talents as a mature writer and producer. This huge-selling and influential release featured the international hits “Ban’m Pase” and “Mwen bezwen” (I Need You), fully incorporated her jazz/blues/samba influences, and secured her position as one of the leading songwriters in the Haitian Creole language.

After being signed with several record labels in France, Canada and the U.S., Emeline formed her own production company (Production Cheval De Feu) in 1999 to gain full control of her career and artistic vision. Soon after she began writing a series of new songs that reflected her core inspiration – Haitian soul & roots with a world music influence – and embarked on a musical quest that would bare rich fruit as the new CD, Cordes et Ame.

Michel is currently based in New York City, where she runs her own production company, Production Cheval de Feu.


Douvanjou Ka Leve ‎(Shap Musique, 1987)
Emeline 2 ‎(Shap Musique, 1988)
Flanm Cobalt (1989)
Pa Gen Manti Nan Sa (Geronimo Records, 1990)
Tout Mon Temps (Cobalt, 1991)
Rhum & Flamme (Air Musik, 1993)
Ban’M Pasé ‎(Antilles Mizik, 1996)
Cordes Et Ame ‎(Production Cheval De Feu, 2000)
Rasin Kreyol (Times Square Records, 2004)
Reine De Coeur ‎(Emeline Michel, 2008)
Quintessence ‎(Emeline Michel, 2013)
Gratitude – Live In Paris ‎(Aztec Musique, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Carimi

Carimi is one of Haiti’s most popular Kompa groupss. Carlo Vieux and Richard Cave on keyboards and singer Mickael Guirand form the word Carimi. The group had their breakthrough in 2002 with their debut CD Ayiti Bang! Bang!.


Bang Bang (2001)
Poze Aki (2002)
Nasty Biznis (2004)
Nasty Biznis: Live in Concert (2005)
Are U Ready? (2006)
Buzz (2009)
Invasion (2013)
Kite m’ cho (2016)


Artist Profiles: Boukan Ginen

Boukan Ginen – Photo by Stephen Homer

Boukan Ginen means “Fire from Africa” in Haitian Creole, and this passionate young roots band from Haiti burns with the spirit of their African musical homeland. Founded in the early 1990s, the band is at the forefront of the mizik rasin (roots music) movement that has captivated Haiti both musically and politically.

Led by the passionate, soulful voice of Eddy François, Boukan Ginen plays an earthshaking mix of African, Caribbean, rock and reggae music with vibrant rara rhythms, choral chants and Jimmy Jean-Félix’s searing guitar solos.

Boukan Ginen began in the heat of Haiti’s political turmoil of the late 1980s. The departure of the Duvaliers’ long dictatorship from Haiti started a cultural revolution which swept across the country, giving way to an explosion of new and talented young musicians. The rasin movement was a potent mix of socially-conscious lyrics and rock and reggae influences with voodoo, the African religious music that had long been rejected by the ruling class. Leading the way was the renowned group Boukman Eksperyans, with whom Eddy and Jimmy first got their start.

In 1990 Eddy and Jimmy left Boukman to launch their own new band, Boukan Ginen, just as Haiti’s popular new President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, came to power. Boukan Ginen’s anthemic songs and polyrythmic grooves captured the spirit of the times, and at the 1991 joyful Carnival celebration, the young band won the coveted musical award for Best Carnival Song with “Pale Pale W” (“Speak Out”).

The music we play is part of an African cultural movement, not just a musical movement,” said Eddy François. “We sing about everyday problems in Haiti – political, social and economic.”

The following year, Haiti was back in turmoil as Aristide was ousted by a military coup. Boukan Ginen’s protest anthem from the previous year, “Pale Pale W,” had them banned from the 1992 Carnival. The powerful, nine-minute chant appears on Boukan Ginen’s first album, Jou A Rive (“The Day Will Come”), recorded and released in Haiti during the repressive months following Aristide’s departure. With the album’s politically-charged songs attacking the country’s social and political malaise, Boukan Ginen became one of Haiti’s most popular and controversial groups.

Jou A Rive was given an international release in 1995 by Xenophile Records, bringing Boukan Ginen worldwide attention and critical acclaim. The band began to tour in the U.S., Canada and Europe, with appearances at festivals around the world. In July 1995, Boukan Ginen performed at Haiti’s Bouyan Rasin Festival, organized by Jonathan Demme.

In 1996, Boukan Ginen dug even deeper into their African roots on their second release, Rév An Nou (“Our Dream”) on Xenophile. The album’s bubbling rhythms and layered horns underscored lyrics portraying abuse of power and hopes of justice and social reform.

Musicians themselves can’t make the change,” said Jimmy Jean-Félix about the album, “but what we say can enlighten people about the situations they are facing. For me, music is the best way to help people understand that their living conditions can be improved. When Haitian people dance to our music, they hear that a change is possible.”


Jou a Rive (Xenophile, 1995)
Rèv an Nou (Xenophile, 1996)


Artist Profiles: Lataye

Lataye – Photo by Alex Dumas

Daniel ‘Dadi’ Beaubrun and his sister Marjorie (former founding members and producers of Boukman Eksperyans) joined forces with Sheila and Alex Tanisma to bring Haiti’s Rasin Mizik (Roots Music) to new heights.

Lataye’s music is a dynamic mix of driving Haitain Vodou rhythms played on a variety of musical instruments coupled with astute arrangements and splendid choral hooks. Without losing the soulful essence and spiritual basis of traditional Haitian music Lataye created music which expresses change unity and love combining both aspects of Vodou which is the spiritual transformation agent in the social and artistic component of coming together in unity.

Lataye is led by Daniel ‘Dadi’ Beaubrun a well known composer songwriter producer singer and musician who was the bass and guitar player of Boukman Eksperyans for twenty years. His unique musical style blends traditional Haitian Vodou rhythms with rock pop and blues and has created a revolutionary musical sound for Haiti known as Rasin Mizik. This original style has taken Vodou music out of the countryside and into the cities of Haiti while bringing international recognition and acclaim to Vodou ceremonial music and dance. Today this unique sound has earned its own distinctive niche in World Music for Haiti just as the Reggai freedom songs of Bob Marley have done for Jamaica.

Lataye is a fusion of Daniel ‘Dadi’ Beaubrun’s unique sound with the musical influences of the latibonit rhythm Alex and Sheila Tanisma’s home town. Alex and Sheila are spiritual leaders and Potomitan (the center pole in Peristyle where all spirits descend) of Lataye. They are both initiate members of two of the most prestigious Lakou in Haiti (Lakou Soukri and Lakou Souvenans). As vodou priests they have provided their services throughout the United States Canada Mexico Martinique Guadeloupe and Japan. This roaring sound is then accented with Marjorie Beaubrun’s passionate vocals which have given her a fine reputation as a songwriter versatile vocalist and accomplished dancer. Her distinctive voice pulsating dance style and hypnotic charisma keep the audience under her spell.

Tou Manbre’s sound is a fusion of Dadi’s unique flair. The music is a mix of Haitian Vodou rhythm with other elements like Rock Reggae Jazz and West African flavor. It brings forth a new vision of cross culture distinction for ‘Rasin’ (Roots) music with an intense and pulsating groove. The music is founded on the three traditional Haitian drums then comes a racing bass line. It’s like a forth drum carrying the rhythm pattern. The track (13) ‘Kavfou’ is an accurate sample of this technique adding edgy electric guitar building-up to a call-response into hi-tech undulation. Daniel explains: “The music and the lyrics are one. Haitians use the same terminologies and proverbs to express something different. Some of the chorus from traditional Vodou songs. The charm is that anyone can give his/her own interpretation of what’s being said. That’s the reason why the Rasin music was labeled as being political but it’s much deeper than teh everyday politics. The message is usually base on spirituality even when we are talking about our daily life. In Vodou everything is connected. Like a wise man once said ‘we must spiritualize the materials and materialize the Spirit.”


Tou Manbre


Distant Drumming Traditions Brought Together

Various Artists – Tambours Croisés Chapter 2 (Buda Musique, 2016)

The Tambours Croisés project celebrates the drumming traditions of France’s overseas territories. For this second volume of the project, the producers also invited musicians from two former French colonies, Haiti and Senegal.

The majority of the pieces have a similar format, featuring vocals or chants and drumming. There is a mix of traditional songs and original works by the participants as well as a final jam.

The album is part of a larger project that included tours, workshops, and a photo exhibition

The artistic director, Thierry Nossin brought together a larger cast for this second volume. Ideally, he wanted a vocalist and a drummer from every country or territory. The artists featured include griot singer Coumba Arame Mbaye and master drummer Alioune Seck from Senegal; the Martinique representatives are Nenetto (René Capitaine) and Beatrice Alcindor on vocals and Claude Jean-Joseph on drums.

Drummer Joël Jean and vocalist Marie-Line Dahomay hail from Guadeloupe. The artists from Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean are Eno Zangoun on vocals and Zelito Deliron drums.

Guyana is represented by singer Yannick Théolade. Diho provides the singing tradition of Mayotte. Lastly, two artist arrived from Haiti, vocalist Guerline Pierre and drummer Jackson Saintil.

Buy Tambours Croisés Chapter 2 in the Americas

Buy Tambours Croisés Chapter 2 in Europe


Artist Profiles: Boukman Eksperyans

Boukman Eksperyans

The revolutionary music of Boukman Eksperyans is a unique blend of roots, Vodou jazz, Zairian soukous and reggae, built on a foundation of traditional African rhythms and Caribbean melodies.

The band also promotes a spiritual message of freedom, unity, and faith, taking its name from a Haitian revolutionary named Boukman Dutty, a slave and Vodou priest who helped unify the Haitian slaves in a revolution against the French colonists in 1791.

Boukman’s first CD, Voudou Adjae, introduced traditional Vodou to a worldwide audiencetheir second, Kalfou Danjere (Dangerous Crossroads), was a direct response to the military overthrow of then Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The group’s third release, Liberte (Pran pou Pran’l!) was recorded while the group was in exile in Kingston, Jamaica.

On July 29th, 2002, lead singers Theodore “Lolo” Beaubrun, Jr. and his wife, Mimerose “Manze” Pierre Beaubrun of Boukman Eksperyans were named official United Nations Ambassadors for Peace and Goodwill by the World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows (WAFUNIF).

This distinguished title of United Nations Goodwill Ambassador was bestowed on Lolo and Manze in recognition of their tireless efforts to promote Love, Peace, Respect and Unity through their music, which has transcended all cultural barriers. They were also been asked to spearhead the creation of WAFUNIF’s Culture of Peace Learning Center in Haiti, which will be a school designed to introduce modern technology to poor countries around the world.

The school will provide poor, underprivileged children with computers, books, music and dance programs, and other digitally enhanced approaches to learning. The schools are created as part of a mandate for a Culture of Peace established in the UN General Assembly resolution 53/25 on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World 2001-2010.

While the members of Boukman Eksperyans survived the devastating Earthquake to their homeland of Haiti, each has been personally affected as all Haitians have been.


* Voudou Adjae (Mango 16253 9899, 1991)
* Kalfou Danjere/Dangerous Crossroads (Mango 162-539 927, 1992)
* Libète (Pran Pou Pran’l!)/Freedom (Let’s Take It!) (Mango 162-539 946, 1995)
* Revolution (Lightyear, 1998)
* Live at Red Rocks (Lightyear, 2000)
* Kanaval Rasin – Vodou Adja (Tropic / Converge, 2000)
* La Révolte Des Zombies (2009)

Web site



RAM to Perform at Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami


Haitian roots (misik rasin) band RAM is set to perform on November 5, 2016 at Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami. RAM is based in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. RAM 6: Manman m se Ginen, the new album from RAM includes many moods and styles, rooted in vodoo rhythms.

RAM started performing in 1990, and released its first album, Aïbobo, in 1993. The band’s music features traditional vodoo lyrics and musical instruments, for instance rara horns and petwo drums, into modern dance music and rock sung in Kreyol and English.

Buy RAM 6: Manman m se Ginen


Length & Time: Sevana Siren

I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time.

The quotidian elegance of Jamaica’s women flows forth from the culture of the Akan groups of present day Ghana, along with that of other immigrants who’ve populated the Caribbean island. The archaeology of Akan culture has presented findings that are much more elegant than the creations of the Yoruba, the people from Dahomey, and the Kongo who populated the remainder of the Caribbean. Akan art is clean and their Kente clothing patterned.  Their language, Ashanti, Asante, or Twi, is one of power and beauty, of brilliant tonality, of pride in selfhood, being that Ashanti (the most dominant of the Akan) itself translates to ‘descending from war.’

In a polity that descendants of these Akan now live, Jamaica, this femininity exists side by side with the need to thrive in Jamaican capitalist society, a ‘plantocracy’ is what President Michael Manley called it, and the urbanite conviction that the society that they desire will come from political action. Protesters are produced alongside a middle class that seeks to live in a capitalist society that is somewhere between wanting to an industrial society because of cheap labor and a post-industrial society because such a society is so good to Americans and those who live in Europe. These descendants of the Akan have been a revolting people and the Jamaican maroons are now well known. A Jamaican Boukman (man with a book) even participated prominently in the Haitian revolution.

Sevana Siren is a singer of  artful reggae pop songs as if a Jamaican version  of Brazil’s MPB genre. They are songs full of synth wherein we hear acoustic guitars and acoustic drums: meld-ings. They feel traditional because of their instrumentation, as if artful pop steeped in Jamaican tradition (though limited to the traditions that begin during Jamaica’s 20th century.)

Her songs are well written and well constructed, positive in the land of both reggae and dancehall. Her first album Sevana is titled to express self-hood. It is a reggae album. The cover is elegant pop, as elegant as her songs, pointing us in the direction of the identity that is at the foundation of this music: vibrant femininity.



Their texts are sentimental balladry: that of a woman with modernist and postmodernist sentiments. Case in point is her song “Bit Too Shy” where she is honest about how shy a boy is and the initiative that a girl must take to woo him. Its video features her in minimal, elegant, style, singing along to maximal melody: an enthralling figuration of reggae.

To her times, she sings self-hood artfully, not in its anthropological sense, but in the same sense that an artful European or American singer expresses self-hood today. This self-hood is elegant (her songs are from beginning to end,) as elegant as many Jamaican women are on a minute to minute basis.  This self-hood is loud and proud. It is full of parables “no, you can’t be dirty” that tale us that Sevana‘s art is a crystallization of what is beautiful, melodic, about Jamaica’s everyday.


Length & Time: AZ

AZ - "Demen Mwen Prale"
AZ – “Demen Mwen Prale”

I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time. 

She’s yet to release an album but her song “Demen Mwen Prale” thrills Port au Prince. The song’s video is also exciting. It’s a simple song wherein her grave singing is accompanied mostly by an acoustic guitar.

Her artist name, her nom de guerre, is AZ. It is short for Asaphe Micaelle Jean Louis. She is a philosopher and teaches philosophy to High Schoolers.

She’s said in an interview that she spent some years, her years of university, living like a Diogene, an idealist, but changed when she got married and began both her singing and teaching careers. She writes some of her songs and for them she would like to express ideas that are debated in philosophical space where philosophy meets music such as in the works of Nietzsche, Adorno, and others. When performing live, she sings Jazz songs also – whatever song she considers beautiful.

Her first album will be released soon, “Sonje.” The title is Haitian kreyol for ‘remember.’

So far, she is not a political singer. She would like to sing art to her times, art that roots itself in aesthetics (philosophy.) Her songs are radio songs, made for alternative play. They are as if made to be played ideally in ‘cafe space,’ with the hopes that they come to resonate as much as a Trova or a chanson. They are the beginnings of what Barbara achieved in France and Omara Portuondo in Cuba: songs that are deeply ‘art.’