Haitian Heritage Month Selebrasyon! Recap

Haitian Heritage Month Selebrasyon!

 

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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.  

Riva

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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