Additional artists from Malawi, Jamaica and Haiti have been revealed in the final set of acts for the 27th annual Africa Oyé festival this summer: Gasper Nali, Jah9 and Wesli. The festival will take place in Liverpool’s Sefton Park on June 22-23. Africa Oyé celebrates the music and culture of Africa and the Diaspora.
With a vocal style that has been likened to Ella Fitzgerald, and a contemporary freshness in the same style as Erykah Badu, Jah9 has become somewhat of an icon for the Jamaican movement known as ‘The Reggae Revival’. Her philosophy, spirituality and unique ‘jazz on dub’ style has traveled across Europe and beyond since her debut album New Name launched in 2013 to wide acclaim.
Making a welcome return to the festival after his 2016 set was cut short due to travel difficulties, is the multi award-winning Haitian star, Wesli. His music aims to give a new mainstream life to rhythms and instruments that he says have been neglected as Haiti faces an increasing amount of global commercial music and culture.
Rounding off this final wave of artists is Malawian one-man-band Gasper Nali. Gasper is a Kwela roots musician from the small town of Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi. Playing a one-string, homemade, 3-metre-long Babatoni bass guitar with a stick and an empty beer bottle, together with a cow skin kick drum, he creates dance-inducing Afro Beats.
The final list of artists join a line-up that already includes The Garifuna Collective, Horace Andy, BCUC, Moonlight Benjamin, Sofiane Saidi & Mazalda, Carlou D and OSHUN, as well as Liverpool emerging stars Tabitha Jade and Satin Beige who make up the ‘Oyé Introduces’ program.
Africa Oyé’s Artistic Director said of the final set of artists: “These three artists really represent the diversity of the festival line-up that we strive for each year. We’ve got a breaking female reggae star, a one-man-band with instruments he’s crafted himself and an international award winning star returning to our stage; artists representing Africa, the Caribbean and the wider diaspora – it’s a perfect final wave of live acts for this year’s festival and I can’t wait for everyone to see them perform.”
As well as the international offering of live music on the main stage, festivalgoers will also be able to eat and drink their way around the world with a range of food vendors and traders’ wares on offer in the Oyé Village.
Wesley Louissaint, better known as Wesli, was born on September 6, 1980 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Canada-based award-winning Haitian guitarist and singer aims to give a new mainstream life to rhythms and instruments that he says have been neglected as Haiti faces an increasing amount of global commercial music and culture.
He weaves contemporary messages into traditional forms and keeps a wide range of roots percussion at the heart of his songs. “Each Haitian roots rhythm reflects different situations and requires different drums and instruments” Wesli explains. “One unique thing we do in all these genres is dance! We dance to everything in Haiti.”
Wesli also supports aspiring young Haitian musicians from at-risk backgrounds via a school he opened in Port-au-Prince in 2014.
RAM, one of the leading Haitian roots music bands celebrates the slave revolt in Haiti on August 1791. The title of the album indicates the year that Haitians started their rebellion against brutal French colonial oppression.
The group is led by vocalist Richard Auguste Morse (RAM) and features family members as well as some of the best players in the Haitian capital. The overall sound is a mix of irresistible Afro-Haitian voodoo percussion, call and response vocals, captivating choruses, rock guitar and keyboards, and African-American funk influences.
The lineup includes Lunise Morse on lead and backing vocals; Richard Morse on lead and backing vocals; Chenel Belizaire on kone (horn) and percussion; Emmanuel Jules on kone and percussion; Wichemon Thelus on tanbu (barrel drum); William Morse on rhythm guitar and backing vocals; Max Blanc on drum kit and backing vocals; Yonel Vendredi on lead guitar and backing vocals; Willy Calixte on bass and backing vocals.
Additional musicians include Dieveut Thelus on tanbu; Medard on kone and percussion; Romane Boniface on kone and percussion; Mackenson Jules on kone and percussion; anis St. Fleur on backing vocals; Wilson Emmanuel on bass; Esaus Augustin on keyboards and backing vocals; and Andrew Weiss on bass and keyboards.
Capitalist Blues is the third album by former Carolina Chocolate Drops cellist and singer-songwriter, Leyla McCalla. On Capitalist Blues, Leyla incorporates a wide range of influences that reflect her Haitian heritage, the music of the Afro-diaspora and her current home in New Orleans, which is one the essential musical melting pots of the United States.
Leyla sings in English and in Haitian Kreyol and collaborated with local artists and acclaimed Haitian ensemble Lakou Mizik, who participated in the album while they were staying in New Orleans to perform at the Jazz and Heritage Festival. In addition to African-American and Haitian music, Leyla also added Brazilian rhythms and Cajun music to Capitalist Blues.
Capitalist Blues illustrates Leyla’s ideas and sentiments about the current world events, including violence in Aleppo during the Syrian civil war; capitalism; lead poisoning in water that has affected many minority communities, especially in Flint, Michigan; the divisiveness of Donald Trump; and the protests in New Orleans over the dismantling of Confederate monuments.
For this album, Leyla McCalla decided to use the guitar and banjo instead of her familiar cello.
Capitalist Blues s is a finely-crafted example of the essence of New Orleans roots music and songwriting with a social conscience.
Haitian-Canadian artist Wesli is the winner of the 2019 Juno Award (Canada’s top music award) in the World Music Album of the Year category, for his impressive 21-song album Rapadou Kreyol. The album focal point is keeping the Haitian traditional music and instrumentation alive and well.
“I have two hearts,” said Wesli. “One is in Haiti, and the other is here in Canada, my chosen second homeland. Every time I do a new project, I have to approach it in two ways, one specifically dedicated to Haiti and our roots and culture, and another one dedicated to the welcome society that I am living in and that I’m grateful to.”
Upon receiving the award, an overjoyed Wesli said, “I really didn’t think I’d win, because everyone in the category [some of whom he’d worked with before over the years like Boogat and Cuban artist Telmary] are all so great, but I’m so thankful and grateful that I can represent Haitian artists in this way.” He’d been nominated once before, in 2007, as album Producer for Senaya, his band at the time, but this is his first win for his own music.
Named for rapadou, the tasty bamboo-wrapped fermented sugarcane often added to coffee, “This album is designed to revive our beautiful rhythms like Petro, Congo, Rada, Nago, Rara, the troubadour and voodoo rhythms, and our music in Yoruba language. These styles have almost no support from the mainstream media to keep them alive in the commercial society that we are living in,” Wesli notes. “Haitian music is the African Bible of the Caribbean. Our traditional percussionists know all the old ways and keep them. We can’t afford to lose them now. I have decided to do this roots revival album to remind us of who we are, where we are coming from, and what unites us.”
Sung entirely in Kreyol, Rapadou Kreyol features his own respectful take on the Haitian rituals of Lakou Dahomé and Lakou Congo, fusing rolling rara beats, bursts of brass, and just the precise electronic elements.
Each of the tracks is a different Haitian genre, like Congo and Daomé to represent joy, Nago and Djouba to represent contemplation and sadness. Each Haitian roots rhythm reflects different situations and requires different drums and instruments. Wesli adds, “One unique thing we do in all these genres is dance! We dance to everything in Haiti.“
Malou Beauvoir – Spiritwalker (Panthera Music International, 2018)
Haitian-American vocalist, actress and songwriter Malou Beauvoir celebrates her Haitian roots and vodou in Spiritwalker. The album crosses over into solid world music territory with a superb fusion of Haitian rhythms and melodies, jazz, neo-soul, reggae, funk, Cuban influences and, on “Rasenbleman,” irresistible cutting edge electronic dance music.
The song selection includes traditional folk songs and originals by Malou Beauvoir in Haitian Creole and English. “I wanted these songs that we grew up with – their values, their principles, the ideas behind them –to become hip, to become accessible to the younger generation so that we can use our own identity to express our frustration, and motivate each of us, as individuals, to bring about change.”
Spiritwalker features an international cast of first class musicians from Haiti, the USA, Cuba and Japan: Chico Boyer on bass, percussion and backing vocals; Paul Beaubrun on guitar and vocals; Sirgo Decius on percussion; Jean Guy Rene on percussion; Cheff Loncher on keyboards and programming; Axel Laugart on piano, keyboards and Spanish-language vocals; Yayoi Ikawa on piano; Hiroyuki Yamada on guitar; Jon Gordon on guitar; Calvin Jones on bass; and Gashford Guillaume on drums.
track, from the album “Is This Love” includes Bobby Mann on guitar; Andy Ezrin
on piano; Ben Whitman on drums and percussion; and David Finck on bass.
Spiritwalker is a masterfully-crafted, captivating contemporary album rooted in Haitian tradition.
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.
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)
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)
Kite m’ cho (2016)
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion