We all know that Christmas is supposed to be a joyous occasion, a family affair, when everyone gets together to celebrate the birth of Christ, eat drink, exchange gifts etc. Kids in particular are supposed to the primary beneficiaries of Santa’s largesse. However, we also know that for some people, this is myth, particularly for a large sector Haiti’s population. That is why I like the recently released CD entitled “Christmas with the stars”.
This CD gathers a number of the best known Haitian musicians on the scene today, and, most interestingly, it puts together 2 generations of musicians. From Boulot Valcourt and his son; Lionel Benjamin and his son, to Isnard Douby from System Band, to Armstrong Jeune, to Stanley Georges, to the young beautiful Tifane, to Fabrice Rouzier and many many more. In short, the CD encompasses generations and gender and there is a simple explanation for this: the horrible living conditions in which man y Haitians find themselves affect everyone and one would have to be quite insensitive to remain untouched by this situation.
As you listen to the beautiful melodies on the CD, you cannot help but feel quite sad that even children cannot really enjoy Christmas as they should. Some of the lyrics are very poignant, at the same time that the CD is an appeal for everyone to get up and gather courage and have fun anyway in unity: “..This is Christmas. Let us celebrate and take advantage to make peace…(Tune No. 6). Tune No. 7 sung by Boulot Valcourt and his son is a nice romantic melody describing how Christmas can be frustrating and creates illusions. Gracia Delva joins forces with Nickenson Prud’homme in tune No 8 “Kilè Tonton Nwèl ap pase” for one of the most beautiful melody on the CD, particularly because of the lyrics. The message is strong and direct: “..It is up to us Haitians to make sure that there is Christmas..” He pleads for “a people well educated, a government well structured…” A straight message which goes right to the roots our problem. Belo the messenger contributes with a nice catchy reggae song in which he describes the difficult conditions at this time and what the people need. Stéphanie “Tifane” Séjour is one of two female voices on the CD in tune No. 12 “Pote fèt la bayo”. She expresses plenty of concern for those who do not have anything at this time to enjoy. Dayana Hansia Mercier is the other female artist. You will recognize the name of her father, the great keyboardist Hansito Mercier. Her message is one of hope and celebration.
In short, this is a message-laden Christmas CD, not one in which the artists are content with just singing Christmas. Many compositions are quite new, save for a couple which were re-arranged and maybe one or two which seem to be older recordings. But the message is clear, thoughtful and right to the point. It makes a wonderful gift and that is why you need to feature it in your collection.
Help fight Haitian CD piracy, it is bad for everyone.
Serge Bellegarde, for Windows on Haiti, December 2008