Archive for the ‘Weekend’ Category

Lakou NOU 2020 Artists Culminating Event


Lakou NOU 2020 Artists Culminating Event

“The Lakou NOU residency has been a constant lesson in how to create with an open heart.” – Daveed Baptiste 2020-2021 Lakou NOU Artist

Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX) announces the 2021 Lakou NOU culminating event from 4-7 pm on June 19th in Rogers Tilden Veronica Place Block Association Community Garden, rain or shine, at 2601-2603 Tilden Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226

Haiti Cultural Exchange’s Lakou NOU artist residency program provides artists of Haitian descent with the opportunity to create and present new work by connecting their skills and talents to historically underserved Brooklyn neighborhoods, home to generations of Haitians and Haitian-Americans: Crown Heights, Canarsie, East Flatbush, and Flatbush. Lakou NOU artists develop collaborative community engagement projects that address neighborhood issues and highlight community assets. Artists in residence received individualized mentorship from HCX staff and interacted with each other as a cohort through discussion and support around topics relevant to Lakou NOU projects. HCX-facilitated additional professional development workshops with community activist Anthonine Pierre, Urban Bush Women, and artist Ariana Faye Allensworth.

The event showcases 2020-2021 artists in residence AnJu Hyppolite, Daveed Baptiste, and Guerdley Cajus’ exploration of what it means to be Haitian American, to belong to two cultures, two worlds, and to be Black in America, while also staying true to your heritage. It integrates performance and visual arts for an immersive experience.

Unlike traditional artmaking, where an artistic creation amplifies a sole artists’ perspective, Lakou NOU residents generated this work collaboratively with community members, weaving participants’ collective creativity into a rich and nuanced depiction of the struggles and triumphs of the Haitian American journey. “The power of this work lies partly in the high caliber of the artists’ craft, and partly in the shared authorship of its creation,” describes Lakou NOU Programs Coordinator, Emily Schiffer. “It was created over the past year and a half, with many pandemic-related adaptations. As a result, the work has an immediacy that reflects our times. It claims power in vulnerability and healing in human connection.”

The Rogers/Tilden/Veronica Place Garden is an apt location to showcase this work. The garden beautifies the community, holds space for community building, and prevents blight and unaffordable housing construction. The artwork is installed throughout the premises and is in conversation with the space it occupies.

The artists projects are as follows:

AnJu Hyppolite: (Canarsie) Project Unearth explores the multiplicities of identity within the Haitian-American experience. AnJu has spent the past year and a half in conversation with Haitian-American women. Her storytelling workshop produced a script describing moments of strength, power, vulnerability, learning/unlearning, and self-actualization. The women used their voices to stand in their truth, bravely and vulnerably, as they shared their experiences. The culminating event will feature a live performance of these stories, an immersive audio installation, and an interactive exercise with the event’s audience.

Daveed Baptiste: (East Flatbush) Through photography, printmaking, textile design, and kite making, Between Lands centers Haitian-American youths’ migration stories. On display at the culminating event are: Large portraits of graduating high school seniors that illustrate their dreams and imaginations in America; textiles with screen printed portraits, and handmade kites with printed designs from the participants in the workshops. Daveed worked closely with The Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project and  Rogers/Tilden/Veronica Place Garden to produce this work.

Guerdley Cajus: (Crown Heights) Body Poems confronts the ongoing erasure of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) voices by placing a lens on the untold stories of Haitian people. Guerdley spent her residency interviewing participants and leading workshops, in which individuals’ stories inspired movement that reclaims power and facilitates healing. Additionally, Guerdley danced at locations in Crown Heights where the brutalization of women took place to honor those women, cleanse those spaces, and claim Black female power. The culminating event features images from those performances and a dance video examining how erasure takes up space in the black body. Guerdley will also lead a movement workshop for the culminating event audience.


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Haitian Heritage Month Selebrasyon! Recap


Haitian Heritage Month Selebrasyon!


2021 Selebrasyon Logo_Horizontal

On Sunday, April 17 at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, upright bass player, Jonathan Michel, celebrated Haitian women composers with special guest singer and guitarist, Talie Cerin. The two performed numerous original compositions from Talie’s latest project “Solèy Midi,” as well as an original composition by Jonathan which he created during his time as a Lakou NOU resident in 2019. 

The duo closed their set with a song composed and performed by Emeline Michel and many began singing along to the familiar tune. The audience enjoyed the music on the lawn while the sun peaked through the clouds, setting the tone for a beautiful Sunday filled with music and Haitian culture.  

 Click here to view event photos by Claire Judine Saintil 

On Sunday, April 25 vocalist Mia, percussionist Okai Fleurimont and drummer SeeYou performed traditional Haitian folksongs and drumming. The trio opened with an acapella piece followed by several mid-tempo arrangements including some commonly known traditional songs. Toward the end of their performance, they invited several audience members to join them on stage where they danced to upbeat traditional Haitian drumming. They ended their performance with a beautiful traditional piece that the audience enjoyed. Everyone was so pleased to be at in-person programming, and it could be felt by all.  

Click here to view photos from the event.  


It was a rainy day on Saturday, May 8 at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Thankfully the rain cleared up just in time for Riva Précil, Monvelyno Alexis and Markus Schwartz to perform a number of Haitian songs both original and traditional. The crowd grew gradually and the sun came out to warm everyone up.  

HCX director Régine Roumain gave opening remarks and introduced Commissioner Mitchell Silver who spoke briefly about the importance of being outdoors together in community and share some personal memories of his own at the garden as a young boy.  

The band began their set with an opening song which required clapping and the audience happily obliged to accompany them while singing along. Riva taught a number of Haitian rhythms and dance moves, explaining a bit about each, emphasizing the harvest dance and songs about natural remedies found in nature. By the end of their performance, everyone was on their feet dancing. There were lots of children in the audience who enjoyed following along and creating their own dance moves. 

Click here to view photos from the event.  

On the evening of Friday, May 21st HCX partnered with Restart Stages at Lincoln Center in celebration of Haitian Heritage Month, presenting vocalist Pauline Jean and saxophonist Godwin Louis accompanied by Axel Laugart on piano, Jonathan Michel on bass, Allan Mednard on drums, and Markus Schwartz on percussion.  

The audience sat in pairs at this open-air event overlooking the tranquil waters and courtyard of Hearst Plaza. Founder and Executive director Régine Roumain gave an opening remarks stating: “We recently celebrated the 218th anniversary of the Haitian flag upheld by our motto of liberty, equality, and fraternity. We are very proud of Haiti’s unique history and heritage as the world’s first black led republic and first independent Caribbean state. The history of Haiti and the rich diversity and creativity of our culture and artist are important and necessary reminders of this. Our art, our culture, and people play a very important role in New York City and the world.” Roumain went on to thank Lincoln Center’s entire team as well as HCX’s present team members and Haitian artists who “continue to lift our hearts and spirits through their work.” 

The band set the tone by opening their set with an excerpt of the Haitian National anthem “La Dessalinienne”. Godwin Louis played the melody on saxophone and the rest of the band joined in. They engaged the audience by instructing them to stand on their feet and join in with some Haitian dance movements while they played some upbeat tunes and incorporated traditional wind instruments called “Kòne.” The evening ended on a high note as the band closed with a medley of lively traditional tunes. 

Watch the live performance on our Facebook page here 

Talie Cerin (Nathalie Cerin) is a Philly based singer-songwriter, born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her music, a unique blend of Haitian folk music and Soul, delivered through her alto vocals and acoustic guitar, bring a fresh sound to the Philly music scene. She recently released her sophomore project, Solèy Midi (midday sun), a collection of originals and traditional Haitian folk songs.


Okai Fleurimont is a vocalist/percussionist who embodies all the music of the African Diaspora. Brooklyn born with Haitian descent, Okai’s cultural background shaped him into being the full round artist he is today. He is Currently the lead singer and percussionist of Brown Rice Family who won “The Battle of the  Boroughs” in NYC in 2012. Okai is also co-founder of Strings N Skins who are currently finishing an album to be released in the fall. He is an active percussionist in New York always sharing his voice and energetic rhythms. Okai has had the pleasure of performing before audiences at Brooklyn Museum, the legendary African art auction exhibition at Sotheby’s,  Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall and venues throughout the States.


Pauline Jean is a captivating songstress whose distinctive voice and rousing melodies have caught the attention of audiences both young and old. Pauline brings a refreshing sound to today’s music; creating an erudite blend of worldly jazz that draws from her Creole roots and integrates modern and traditional inflections. She has received considerable press globally from leading media publications such as The Source, DownBeat, Afropop Worldwide, World Music Report, Jazz Times, and many more. Pauline has performed at the Pori Jazz Festival, Nõmme Jazz Festival, St. Lucia Jazz Festival, Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival, Martinique Jazz Festival, Annecy Classical Festival, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Jazz at Lincoln Center-Shanghai, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, and many other prominent jazz venues and festivals around the world. She has presented concert throughout the United States, Africa, Russia, Israel, China, Europe and the Caribbean with her band. 


Godwin Louis, alto saxophonist, was born in Harlem, New York and began playing saxophone at age nine. Godwin grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Port au Prince, Haiti. Godwin was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Saxophone Competition. He has performed around the globe including: Mali, Senegal, Togo, France, Finland, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Venezuela, Colombia, South Korea, Indonesia and Australia. Godwin is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute for Jazz Performance. Godwin has studied and performed with Herbie Hancock, Clark Terry, Roger Dickerson, Ron Carter, Al Foster, Jack Dejohnette, Jimmy Heath, Billy Preston, Patti Labelle, Toni Braxton, Babyface, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Barry Harris, Howard Shore, David Baker, Mulatu Astakte, Mahmoud Ahmed, Wynton Marsalis, and Terence Blanchard just to name a few.


Mia With a music and dance career spanning over 20 years Mia has made a remarkable impact on various genres of Haitian music and dance. Best known as an original member of the all-female 90’s konpa group 4×4, the groups early mix of konpa, reggae, and rap contributed to paving the way for today’s rap Kreyol movement. Mia has also made and indelible impact in the world of Haitian folklore music and dance. Her extremely passionate admiration of traditional folklore song and dance has led her to having operated dance studios in Miami as well as New York, helping to develop new generations of folklore dancers.  Mia is a proud mother currently residing in New York City where she continues to work on her music and dance career, she has also most recently launched the fashion line Zilekoleksyon.


Jonathan Michel was born and raised in Waterbury, Connecticut Jonathan Michel is a bassist, composer and arranger of Haitian descent. Based in New York City, Michel is an eclectic artist known for his work as a producer and arranger, as well as performances all over the world. Some associated acts include Billy Paul, Laurin Talese, Soul Science Lab, Melanie Charles, Godwin Louis and Orrin Evans. Currently teaching artist with Carnegie Hall, Jonathan was a 2019 Haiti Cultural Exchange Lakou Nou Artist in Residence.


Riva Precil is a music artist of Haitian descent, dancer, author, and jeweler. When Precil was 5, she moved to Haiti where she resided for 10 years. While in Haiti, Riva was exposed to traditional Haitian music & culture, which greatly influenced her eclectic music & fashion palette. At the age of 18, Riva moved to New Orleans to attend Loyala University New Orleans where she graduated with a Music Therapy degree. Riva performs in New York City alongside her band Bohio Music.


SeeYou built a strong career playing with Haitian roots groups Tokay, Racine Mapou de Azor, Koudjay, Racine Origin, Zaka Ginen, Bagay Yo An Dekilakyel, Racine La Reine d’Haiti, and Djarara of Brooklyn, among others. Misere is devoted to presenting his rich culture on the world stage and advocating for the possibilities it provides for healing the individual, the community, and the country.

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Diane Exavier | Diaspora NOW | Taking The Time To See by Tassiana Larochelle


Taking The Time To See 

A crowd gathered at Five Myles gallery on February 9th, an unassuming Sunday afternoon. The intimate group mingled over drinks and appetizers as they casually admired the vivid art work lining the gallery walls. We had come to see a theatrical reading of Solange and Frankie Rite Love Songs in the Mourning by Diane Exavier, the last of the HCX Presents…Diaspora Now series. Diane had been a former artist-in-residence of the 2017 HCX Lakou NOU program so many were interested to experience her latest body of work.  


After a quick introduction by HCX founder and director Régine M. Roumain, Diane announced she would begin with a poem dedicated to her mother, whom had passed away. What followed was a quietly heartbreaking poetry performance that thoroughly disarmed her audience, unexpectedly bringing many (myself included) to tears. This was expertly done as Diane’s work is described as exploring “how people create new worlds in the face of environmental disaster, personal trauma and historical violence”, it was evident that she had set out not only to perform but to create a physical safe space for the audience to possibly experience emotional healing through her work. 


We were now open to emotionally engage in this play about Solange and Frankie, two lovers grappling with the aftermath of trauma. One having survived the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the other, recovering from a work accident that caused him to lose an arm in Miami. The lovers have several conversations about their soon to be born child as they attempt to work through their anxieties about the future.  


After the reading, Diane sat down with her co-star and director for a conversation with the audience about her work. Discussions arose around her creative process. She challenged us to reflect on concepts of home as both characters are physically displaced and encouraged the audience to examine how we think of healing and recovery or how we can create a home in each other even as we are physically displaced.   


There is a line in the play where Solange tells Frankie that he can’t see his life because he’s perpetually looking for it. I can say for certain that on that night, we all took some time to see. 

-Written by Tassiana Larochelle 


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Solèy Midi with Talie Cerin | Diaspora NOW


On Saturday, February 8th Haiti Cultural Exchange hosted an album listening premiere of singer/songwriter Talie’s latest project “Solèy Midi,” at FiveMyles Gallery as part of Diaspora NOW. Diaspora NOW is a platform for emerging literary and performing artists of Haitian descent to premiere works in New York City, offering opportunities for Haitians and the general public to engage with new art that highlights experiences in the Diaspora.  

Attendees sat in a semi-circle and experienced an intimate acoustic performance by Talie and her band which consisted of keyboard, bass, percussion, guitar and vocals. The audience sang along to some of her memorable tunes with lyrics in both English and Haitian Creole. The band performed songs from her new album as well as covers of Haitian songs which brought smiles to the audience’s faces.

After the band concluded their hour-long set the audience enjoyed beverages sponsored by Clairin the Spirit of Haiti and food provided by Grandchamps Restaurant.   


Solèy Midi


Listen to Solèy Midi here: 

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