lundi 18 juillet 2011

Lenord Fortuné (Azor), 1965-2011

photo from Ticket Magazine
Lenord Fortuné, plus connu sous son nom de scène, Azor, est mort le samedi 16 juillet 2011 à l’Hôpital Bernard Mevs. L’artiste participait à la fête annuelle de Saut d’Eau quand il fut pris d’un malaise.

Reconnu comme Trésor National en 2006, Azor était connu en Haïti et à travers le monde pour sa voix puissante et ses talents de percussioniste, surtout de tambourineur.

Mais au-delà de son statut de musicien consacré, Azor, c’est aussi un symbole. Symbole de la tendance racine, de la religion vaudoue dans toute sa dignité. Symbole d’une culture qui en dépit des nombreuses tentatives de l’occulter, de la réprimer, de la culpabiliser, n’a jamais cessé de s’épanouir. Azor c’est la fierté de l’âme haïtienne.

Nul ne peut nier qu’âgé de 46 ans, Azor est mort trop tôt. Mais il n'est pas parti. Sa voix, son tambour continuent de résonner. On reproche souvent aux Haïtiens d'oublier trop vite. Notre histoire. Nos urgences. Nos héros. Nos artistes. Aujourd’hui, je constate que ce n'est pas toujours le cas. Les stations de radio haïtiennes repassent les tubes d’Azor, les stations de télévision retransmettent ses vidéos clip. Il est salué par les nombreux blogs haïtiens. Hier soir, la Ministre de la Culture lui a rendu hommage à la Télévision Nationale. Pendant ce temps, nombreuses activités de quartier à travers Port-au-Prince vibraient au rythme du tambour d’Azor.  Le Président de la République s’incline devant sa dépouille. Aujourd’hui, Azor est encore avec nous. Gardons-le pour toujours.


jeudi 14 juillet 2011

Out and about

Dernière prière -- photo taken from JRD official website
Summer is finally here. It's been a long academic year! If you're wondering why we haven't been posting as frequently, it's because we're out and about. Here's a recap of just a few events I've attended in Port-au-Prince recently. Unfortunately, I don't have any original pictures or video, due to technical difficulties (and maybe just a touch of laziness), but I hope you can still appreciate the fun.

On Thursday, May 26th, I went to hear Tamara Suffren sing at the French Institute. It is always a pleasure to listen to Tamara's superb voice. As usual, she performed a mix of traditional and contemporary Haitian folk songs: Manman m voye m peze kafe, Yoyo, Pòs Machan... I've been looking forward to the release of her first cd for some time now. Still no word on when that will happen, but she is featured on Wooly St. Louis Jean's second cd, which should be available soon.

Les Mots Vulnerables was the title chosen for the event held at the French Insitute as part of La Quinzaine du Livre on Friday, June 24th. A theater group presented a short sketch and several authors (Edwidge Danticat, Kettly Mars, Verly Dabel, Lyonel Trouillot, and Georges Castera, among others)  read excerpts of their published works and other short texts. The crowd seemed to especially appreciate Dabel's take on Haiti's post-earthquake situation, including his critique of the international community and various NGO's. Live music was provided by Belo, BIC with Queen B and K.Libr' of Mystik 703. Belo's performance was a bit more timid than usual, but the other artists really got the crowd going. K'Libr' performed both the French and Creole versions of his Kestion a Dieu. You can check it out here, it's definitely worth it. (He came back later to demonstrate his talents as a reader with an excerpt from Jean-Euphele Milce's latest novel.) BIC and Queen B continued with Yon Ti Kalkil and 1+1=1 from his latest album, Kreyòl chante Kreyòl Konprann. It was clear that most of the audience knew the words to all of these songs, which point to interesting developments in the Rap Kreyòl movement.

On Thursday, July 7th, I finally attended one of Centre Jean-René Delsoin's Jeudi de la danse activities. I've been meaning to for a while and I'm really glad I went. I did not enjoy having to wait over 15 minutes in a cramped yard and would hope that in the future, they'd seat people right away, but the show itself was wonderful. I love that the lighting was actually used to enhance what was going on on stage and that there was a diversity of styles and techniques showcased. Of course, I preferred some to others. My absolute favorite was "Divinement guidés," choreographed by Delsoin himself and performed by two male dancers. Wow. Awesome. Breathtaking. Those are the words that come to mind. Unfortunately, one of the dancers hurt his knee during this number and was unable to dance for the remainder of the night. I have mixed feelings about "Marley's songs," choreographed to a medley of, yes, you guessed it, Bob Marley's songs. Although certain parts were beautiful, I could have done without it. I hate when people mess with Marley. Unless you're going to be brilliant, just leave him alone. (Which reminds me of a certain tribute I attended on May 6th. The two musicians who organized it usually deliver quality events, but sadly, this was not one of them. The event was pricey, several singers forgot or messed up song lyrics (!), the MC was a disaster and well, I just wasn't feeling it.Thank goodness for Fefe, is all I can say. Well, and the musicians were good.)

Finally, this past Saturday, July 9th, again at the French Institute, Wooly St. Louis Jean was in concert to announce the release of his second album entitled Se ou menm fanm later this month. I did miss Tamara Suffren, who usually accompanies Wooly, and is a great complement to his voice, but she is currently in Belgium perfecting her craft. Wooly started off with a couple of songs from his first album, Quand la parole se fait chanson. He's known for putting Haitian poems to music and several of the poets who wrote what have since become lyrics to his songs were actually in attendance. Among them: Georges Castera, James Noël, and Lyonel Trouillot. There was a brief interlude during which Mark Mulholland performed a couple of numbers. It seemed a bit odd since his presence was unexpected and he definitely wasn't singing Haitian folk songs. There was a definite shift in mood when he was on stage, but the crowd was patient, understanding that Wooly probably needed a break. It was definitely an enjoyable evening, with Wooly taking many requests from the audience, including several songs by Manno Charlemagne and of course, Hasta Siempre, a crowd favorite. It was a very laid-back, casual atmosphere. A few people read poems, but I'm trying to block that part of the evening from my mind.

Of course, all of these events are in addition to the book-related activities I've been attending lately. So, as you can see, there is a lot going on this summer as far as Haitian culture is concerned. There is no way we can report on, attend, or even let you know about everything going on. But we will try our best. So, please  remember to check out our calendar from time to time.