Jay-B Organizes Music Benefit for Haiti

In “Haiti, Bringing Music and Hope,” Alison Hird reports on the role can culture, and music in particular, can play at a time of major disaster, namely the earthquake that tore apart many regions in Haiti leaving hundreds of thousands of victims vulnerable. She focuses on Haitian musicians in France, who, “in addition to raising funds to help the country rebuild itself, are helping their fellow musicians back home in the belief that where there is music, there is hope.” Here are excerpts below with a link to the original article.

 “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand” sang Stevie Wonder. For Haitians it’s a language they learn “even before we learn to speak” says singer and psychotherapist Dominique Sylvain. Sylvain, who sings under the name of Joy Shanti, is also a member of the Comité urgence et soutien pour Haiti, (Emergency support committee for Haiti). She was one of a host of Haitian, Caribbean, French West Indian and US artists at a recent benefit gig in Paris’s 17th arrondissement.

The line-up was organised by Haitian singer and dancer Jay-B. No stranger to fundraising, he’s been organising charity events for orphanages and schools back in his native Haiti for years. And, as president of the Haitian artists of France for the last four years, he coordinates shows to help French-Haitian artists wanting to record an album over here, providing them with studios and generally giving them a leg-up. When Hurricane Jane struck Gonaives in 2004, he helped collect clothes and food along with Haitian pianist and producer Fabrice Rouzier and hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean. “I have a lot of responsibility on my back. Each time I go to Haiti, people are asking me for a lot of help. But I cannot help the whole country. I’m not the president,” he says. However his great grandfather, Florvil Hyppolite, was. And he admits he may have inherited a sense of civic duty from him. [. . .]

At the concert, Jay B performed a rap-inspired version of the traditional Haitian song “Wongo”l. Adapting the original James Germain song, he urged the young Haitian diaspora to return home and put its energy and talent into helping rebuild the country.

There’s no doubt Haiti needs rebuilding but its culture of resistance remains intact says Dominique Sylvain. “A country is its culture, music, dances, everything. Our music, poetry, painters are still alive so we’ll live forever.”

For full article, see http://www.english.rfi.fr/americas/20100312-haiti-bringing-music-and-hope

For more information on international music for Haiti, see http://www.rfimusique.com/musiqueen/articles/121/article_8315.asp

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