Lakou Mizik: Wa Di Yo

July 24, 2016


Wealth of a Poor Nation

Listening Post 57. Nothing compensates for losses from war or disaster, but tragedy can generate compassion, medical advances and transformative art. Lakou Mizik, a collective of nine musicians formed after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, performs to lift a nation’s spirit. Founded by singer-songwriters Steeve Valcourt and Jonas Attis, the group draws from a luxurious sound palette of voodoo ceremony, rara parade, carnival beat, racine (roots), French café and folk music, all sung in Haitian Creole. After several years of live performances, Wa Di Yo (We’re Still Here) is the group’s first album. In Peze Kafe (Ground Coffee), a boy off to sell coffee in the market so his mother can buy food is wrongfully arrested—and worries over what to say when he returns without money (video 1). Tanbou’n Frape (The Drum Beats) extolls the iconic instrument that moves us viscerally: “Wherever it beats, it makes everybody dance/With it we have sung for freedom” (video 2). The starting point of Panama’m Tonbe (My Panama Hat Has Fallen) is the folktale of a Haitian president who died shortly after losing his hat (a bad omen); the song—led by the pure and powerful voice of Nadine Remy—asks elders and ancestors to help the nation pick up its collective fallen hat so it can overcome fate (video 3). Other songs that address emblematic concerns include Anba Siklòn (In a Hurricane) dealing with storms physical and metaphoric; and Poze (Stay Calm) about maintaining composure in a crisis. Wa Di Yo not only demonstrates that a poor nation still stands, it also showcases one resource—music—in which Haiti is wealthy. (Cumbancha)






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