Chronique 158 - April 2016

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Chronique 158 - April 2016

Post by Serge » Sun Apr 17, 2016 11:31 pm

Lakou Mizik, music with a message

It was in 2010 that the world watched in horror as an earthquake devastated Haiti, killing an estimated 300 000 people. The horror turned to worldwide admiration as Haitians came together to help one another. A few years later, another earthquake hit Haiti again, this time in the form of cholera brought about by United Nations personnel stationed in Haiti. However, it seems that the greater the number of tragedies, the more inspiration the Haitian finds in his culture and the greater his sense of creativity. Something that is not easily grasped by the outside observer. Witness the brand new CD released by the group Lakou Mizik.

According to the liner notes, Lakou Mizik was formed shortly after the earthquake by a “multigenerational collective of Haitian musicians …..(including) elder legends and rising young talents, united in a mission to honor the healing spirit of their collective culture and communicate a message of pride, strength and hope to the world”. After listening to this CD, I think the mission has been accomplished; the message has been eloquently transmitted.

The music is a wonderful mix of folk music, native instruments, beautiful melodies and incredible vitality. You would never guess that the formation of the group followed such a devastating event. The arrangements of some traditional folk songs like “Panama m tonbe”, Peze Kafe” “Bade Zile” are just wonderful. I really like how Steeve Valcourt’s and Chris Velan’s guitar – incidentally one of only two electric instruments, the other being the bass – provides solid, harmonious and subtle accompaniment to the melodies without been overwhelming , like it happens in other groups. The same can be said for the accordion. It is most interesting to hear the famous Haitian cornet that are so prominently featured in rara music. It is not an easy instrument to play, but listen to the outstanding phrasing of Peterson Joseph and James Carrier, the two cornet players. As we say in Haitian kreyòl: Chapo ba!

Apart from being hugely entertaining and danceable music, the lyrics on Lakou Mizik are also profound. While I like all the tunes on the CD, I particularly bring attention to tune No. 4 “Anba siklòn”. This song probably shows the resilience and the unswerving faith and belief that Haitians hold that despite everything, Haiti will change – Ayiti gen pou l chanje, li gen pou l chante, pandan nou nan move tan – Haiti will change, Haiti will sing again while going through a hurricane, bad weather-. You hear the same exhortation in tune No. 3 “Panama m tonbe” or tune No. 9 “Pran ka mwen”. The latter is a poignant call to everyone to live in peace on this earth, for society to be fair, a barely veiled message to the powers that be to work toward putting an end to the profound inequality prevailing in Haitian society. The title tune “Wa di yo “ played on a wonderful yanvalou beat, carries a vibrant message which should resonate with everyone: despite everything that happened, we are still here. As long as there is life, nothing is lost.

Lakou Mizik’ CD “ Wa di yo” is available on for those interested in getting their copy. I highly recommend it. Not only are the lyrics well written, but it is highly dancing music, and these comments apply to the whole CD, not just a couple of songs. The group is on a tour in the United States. Check your area to see if they will be performing there; it certainly is worth attending. For more information, there is a website:

Serge Bellegarde
Help fight Haitian CDs piracy, we all will be better for it. Otherwise, the musician looses, the music industry looses, the culture looses.

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