As the political and social crisis deepens in Haiti and the country continues to sink into despair, one bright spot remains, always shining and getting brighter. In fact, even the darkest moments in our history cannot dampen the art production of Haiti. For the purposes of this chronicle, I am specifically referring to the musical production. We have had Jean Jean-Pierre’s release of Happy Birthday Haiti, Réginald Policard’s Tradition, Fred Paul’s Bay Ayiti yon chans, and more recently, another powerful release by Muzykarts Production : Atis pou Ayiti (APA). Like the other CDs I mentioned above, the CD’s main theme, as we could expect, is Haiti.
Producers Alex Villier and Philippe Pierre have done a fantastic job of getting together some of our best
musicians and singers to sing about Haiti, to express their love for the motherland, to sing about hope and to reinforce their faith that Haiti will not only survive, but will rise again. Singers like Beethovas Obas, Emeline Michel, Dadou Pasquet, Raymond Cajuste, King Kino, Cubano, Isnard Douby, Ralph Tamar and so many more, are all there.
The CD opens with a beautiful and emotion-filled reading by Dominique Joseph Obas, whose melodic voice already gives a preview of what is to come. Beethova Obas introduces the first song, Sonje Haiti, in his usual soft, inspiring voice. Many other singers follow: Alan Cave, Wilkenson Théodore and others. As you listen to the following songs, you cannot help from being overtaken by a number of different feelings, feelings of pride, nostalgia, determination, sadness, gratitude, respect, sometimes of lassitude, but never of discouragement, rather of renewed energy. That is the purpose of this CD and in my view, this goal was realized.
Notice has to be taken of how the producers went to great lengths to write and to choose songs perfectly adapted to each singer’s style. Indeed, you can feel how comfortable each one is with his or her tune: Shoubou in Flanbo Lespwa, Emeline Michel in Kenbe la; Cubano in Vanse pou’n vanse; King Kino in Leve Kanpe, Isnard Douby in Pazapa and so on. I will not name all of them here, and this means that you will have to obtain your copy to enjoy this treat.
The producers Alex Villier and Philippe Pierre chose an excellent cast of musicians to support the work. No offence meant to the other musicians on the CD, but I have to mention the work of some of my favorite ones here. I will not mention all of them so as not to burden you, but we have pianist Welmyr Jean-Pierre. You will agree with me as you listen to his piano lines for example in support of the
great Haitian Diva Emeline Michel in Kenbe la. He does not overwhelm the song, coming in just as needed. Whether it is konpa, or ballad, salsa, he is perfectly at ease. And Welmyr is featured in a majority of the 16 tunes on the CDs. And how about Tune No. 7 sang by one my favorite singer-guitarists, Dadou Pasquet?. I love this off-beat beguine beat with the excellent Martiniquan pianist Mario Canonge, a connoisseur and long-time collaborator of Beethova Obas. What an excellent combination!On this song, bassist Michel Alibo’s play is just exquisite. Drummer Tico Pasquet, whom I had not heard in a while, has not lost a step. He is crisp, accurate and a joy to listen to. Singer Eddy François remains equal to himself, his voice reflecting his long-held deep concerns about Haiti.
Alex Villier and Philippe have produced a well-rounded CD, combining a variety of rhythms, from soft ballads to salsa, konpa, Martiniquan beguine, rasin and much more, and profoundly meaningful lyr
ics. While I, and I am sure you also will, enjoy every one of those 16 tunes, I particularly noted 3 of them, and this is a totally personal choice. Tune No.11 , Ayiti pap mouri, is played on a slow, off-beat konpa. I love the bass line and the way the piano comes in and out, filling in with some beautiful, sensitive passages, the space in between verses. Rousseau Telfort makes an expressive, haunting and soulful solo on the guitar which provokes all kind of emotions in the listener, along with the excellent lyrics sang with such harmony by Raymond Cajuste, King Kino, Philippe Pierre singing in turn. This is a pretty song! Tune No. 13, Haiti, My First love, is a totally different style. It is a rap song sung by Haitian Rapper Rated-R. This song is all nostalgia and longing for the good old time. You will enjoy this one. Tune No. 15 , The Bridge is an excellent solo piece sung by Obed Jean-Louis who also accompanies hims
elf on the guitar. The lyrics written by Bob Jean-Louis, are simply right on the point. In a short song, the composer manages to say everything about the richness of Haitian culture, the pride, the bad press that Haiti suffers, our resilience and the depth of our feeling of freedom.
Along with the other 3 CDs I mentioned in the introduction, this CD becomes part of a nice 4-CD set that everyone should hold in his or her collection. The arrangements, the mixing, the musicianship, the lyrics, the orientation, the melodies, all combine to make this CD a must in your collection. I highly recommend it, hoping that Muzikarts Production is already working on a second volume….
For Windows on Haiti, April 2005