To Haiti With Love: Racine, Kompa, Twoubadou, & Jazz

My heart, like yours, broke seeing the tragic images and trying to comprehend the magnitude of the loss and suffering of the Haitian Earthquake of 2010 (see links below for how to help). Aside from the troubled history that keeps being repeated in the media, there is a richness and strength of culture and spirit that resides in the heart of the first independent black nation in the Western Hemisphere (which inspired independence movements throughout Latin America). May that culture continue to bring Haiti resilience and hope during what will be a long healing and recovering time to come. My late father (himself born of the other poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Honduras) use to say, it is the meek who will inherit the earth “through the poem and a song…”

Image Source

Famed ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, who visited Haiti in 1937 to record folk music, had this to say about the island nation: “I have looked about enough to be sure this is the richest field I have ever worked in.” The following samples are a tiny fraction:

RACINE or RASIN is known as the folk music of Haiti. Here is master drummer Lenor “Azor” Fortuné of Haiti demonstrating racine music.

COMPA or KOMPA has been adopted and recognized as the national music of Haiti. Here is Haitian band, Plezîn Nap Pran performing a kompa song:

I was recently introduced to this podcast of KOMPA music via my wonderful twitter community and had to share it with you via the podcast blog:

According to, TWOUBADOU is a romantic, slower take on Haitian Compas. “Twoubadou translates as troubadour and, as that designation implies, the style is more concerned with melody, lyrics, harmonies and acoustic instruments than some of its Caribbean competitors.” Here is a Haiti Twoubadou group singing a sweet song, “Je Vais”:

Finally, this is an amazing take on Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” by Haitian JAZZ quintet Mozayik:

Please donate to Haitian relief efforts:
~Text “Yele” to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund or “Haiti” to 501501 to donate $10, charged to your cell phone bill
~Text “HAITI” to 90999, to donate $10 to the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill
~Contact the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund a joint fundraising effort for Haiti earthquake relief led by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Links and Articles
Musician Wyclef Jean’s Yele Organization:
10 CD box set of folkloric music of Haiti recorded by Alan Lomax in 1937 released just weeks before the earthquake:
Music of Haiti via Wikipedia:
Washington Post article about Haitian bands, Tabou Combo and Rafrechi playing an Earthquake benefit in DC
Wyclef Jean’s album which features folkloric Haitian music, Welcome to Haiti: Creole 101


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