« …Enfin merci à vous mes inconditionnels, mes fans qui invisiblement sont présents dans ma vie. À vous…Toute ma passion, mon amour et mes chansons » (Unofficial translation : Finally, thanks to you all, my unwavering supporters, my unknown fans who are always present in my life…To you, I offer my passion, my love and my songs.” This is what Emeline Michel wrote in the liner notes of the intensely awaited latest CD entitled “Reine de Coeur” (Queen of Heart). The great Haitian Diva did it again with her new CD. First, you will be taken by the presentation of the CD which features a beautiful picture of the great Haitian singer. The music inside matches the beauty on the cover.
Even though it had been a least a year since her last CD, Emeline Michel has developed into such a wonderful artist that anything she does is eagerly awaited and anticipated, whether it is a CD or a concert, or a simple appearance. Such is the quality of her work.
This CD showcases one more time her tremendous talent of composer, arranger and lyricist. Of the 14 songs on the CD, she composed 7 of them and in the others, she is a beautiful arranger. She also surrounded herself with an absolutely excellent cast of musicians such as Yves Albert Abel, Toto Laraque, Gagy Depestre, Azor, Makarios Césaire, Sergo Decius and others that are too numerous to mention. She also features some African musicians who do a wonderful job. Listen for example to tune No. 3 “Jodya” which features a wonderful accordion player called Lelo Niko. He is superb on the accordion, while Toto Laraque on the guitar provides exquisite phrases on his guitar. Lelo Niko's play is expressive, sensitive and full of nuances. Tune no. 4 “Awa” is a duet with a wonderful African singer called Awa. It is really pleasing to the ears to listen Emeline and Awa singing together while Daniel Bernard Roumain accompanies them on the violin. Awa reminds me of the wonderful African singer Mbilia Bel in her style.
The CD covers different themes: love of country, love, nostalgia, family issues, trust, etc. Her lyrics penetrate you, evoke feelings and never live you indifferent. Listen for example to tune No. 2 “Mwen pa ka lage'w”, when she says that one can remove her from her country (Haiti), but cannot remove Haiti from her. What a powerful statement! When singing, she can be in turn fiercely nationalistic, haunting, soft, romantic, melancholic. In tune No. 6, “Histoire d'eau”, Emeline uses the water beautifully as a metaphor to express the purest and most candid sentiments of love and romanticism, demonstrating at the same time her talents of poet. Played on a light bossa nova beat, her voice sounds as happy as the sentiments she is expressing. And what about tune No. 5 “Fè van pou mwen” written by Boulot Valcourt with lyrics by famous Haitian poet Cyto Cavé? This is an exquisite piece. Emeline's voice goes up and down the scale effortlessly. And that is well in evidence throughout the CD. Listen how suave and smooth she sounds in tune No. 8 “Yon ti mo”, written by Daniel Baubrun. You've never heard a sweeter sound! Tune No. 10 “Maricela” also features saxophonist Anath Cohen whose harmonious and soft sound provides wonderful support to Emeline's singing while long time sideman Frederic Lasfargeas plays some pretty piano chords underneath. It is also interesting to hear Emeline's treatment of the traditional “Twa Fèy”. One never tires of listening to this song. Another beautiful piece is tune No. 12 “Sam pa wè yo”, written by Emeline and arranged by Toto and Pascal Laraque. It is some pretty song!
One measure of the creativity of an artist is its ability to produce a CD, the quality of which is equal to, or better than, the previous one. “Reine de Coeur” meets this criteria in my book. Like other artists I have reviewed in this Chronique, Emeline Michel is one of those artists who constantly produces quality work, creative work, always looking for the right sound, touching on meaningful themes. Whether she sings about love, about misery, or about some philosophical matter, her lyrics are never frivolous, like too many artists I hear. Endowed with a beautiful voice, Emeline has become the pride of Haitian female artists, a worthy heir to Martha Jean-Claude and Toto Bissainthe.
I should also mention that when it comes to dancing music, this CD will also hold its own, even though it is not a Konpa CD. Some of those songs will make you get up, believe me. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest CD which I cannot seem to get tired of listening to, as I discover some new nuances with each audition. I think you will have the same experience when you obtain your copy. If you do not have it already, do not delay in doing so..
Help fight Haitian CD piracy; it is bad for everyone.
Serge Bellegarde for Windows on Haiti. December 2007
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