Haitian with Emeline
Meet the Artist
Haitian songstress Emeline Michel is internationally acclaimed for fusing pop, jazz, blues, and traditional Haitian rhythms into deeply moving, joyful music delivered through charismatic live shows. A master entertainer, Emeline has shared her message with audiences for more than 20 years, including appearances at the United Nations, Montreal’s International Jazz Festival, and MTV’s Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief. Hailed by the New York Times as a “diplomat of music” and “the dancing ambassador with a voice serene and warm like the breeze,” she is now based in New York City, where she runs her own production company, Production Cheval de Feu, and remains an important voice for social issues concerning women and children worldwide.
Artist and Genre Overview
Haiti’s music reflects the different groups that have lived on the island, melding French, Spanish, and African influences. Of the many styles of Haitian music, perhaps the most popular and culturally significant is compas, a complex dance music combining African rhythms and European ballroom dancing within a quintessentially Haitian aesthetic. In French, it is called “compas direct”; the music’s pivotal force is its pulsating rhythm.
Emeline Michel, known as “the Joni Mitchell of Haiti,” began singing with a gospel choir in Gonaïves, Haiti, where she spent her childhood. After studying at the Detroit Jazz Center, she returned to Haiti where her career blossomed. Now based in New York City, Emeline is known as a respected voice for social issues concerning women and children worldwide. She writes her music in both English and Haitian Creole, in a style that fuses pop, jazz, the blues, and, of course, compas.
Additional Resources for Teachers
- Visit emeline-michel.com to hear more Haitian songs from Emeline.
- Ti-Coca & Wanga-Nègès, “Pè Bawon”
- Martha Jean Claude, “Choucoune”
- Boukman Eksperyans, “Pèpè Yè”
- Beethova Obas, “Rasanble”
- Little Fanfan Sings and Dances in Haiti, Susan Gleason Pierre