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Emeline Michel: Haiti


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The music of Haiti, much like its people, has always been diverse. A unique synthesis of African, indigenous, French, Spanish, and English influences, Haitian music reflects the turbulent history of the tiny island nation as well as the promise of its fundamental diversity. For twenty years, the singer, songwriter, bandleader, and humanitarian Emeline Michel has delivered a singular distillation of Haiti’s musical variety, with songs that draw upon hard funk and soft folk, crackling blues and distinctly Haitian rhythms. The Boston Globe called her “the elegant, jubilant voice of her island nation, finding the beauty in a country most often characterized by political upheaval and social unrest.” Born in the city of Gonaïves, Michel began singing in her church choir, won a major talent contest as a teenager, and went on to study at the Detroit Jazz Center. Back in Haiti, she became a bona fide star, with her seamless fusion of styles and preternaturally smooth singing reflecting the cultural richness of her country. Hailed as “a Haitian music diplomat” by The New York Times, Michel has remained restless, becoming a globetrotting artist in pursuit of progressively nuanced expressions — of longing, belief, and hope for her homeland.

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