Monday, July 1, 2002

Koudjay: Mizik Ginen (Roots Music)

Break down Haiti to its core, and you¹ll find, the country is a paradise, the people are witty and beautiful, the religion is vodou, and the music is rara. Rara is roots music in its purest form. With time the music has grown into Musique Racine, or Mizik Ginen. Mizik Ginen, unlike Konpa, is uniquely Haitian, and like reggae, can stir the soul spiritually, politically, and amicably. Many times the music is associated with Vodou, and there are many references to the religion in the music. It can also be very political, for it can rally the people faster than any other media or politician in the country. For carnival, like Soca from Trinidad and Tobago, the rhythm is intoxicating and addictive. One of the best bands to represent that music is Koudjay. Led by Jean Samuel Lubin, a.k.a. Kessy, and Mirlande and Nerlande Marcelin, Koudjay has been making music for over a decade. They've won numerous awards for their carnival songs in Haiti. So, it was fitting that WACAHAPA (Washington Carnival Haitian Participation) picked the group to be the Haitian performers at the DC Carnival. Friday night before the DC Carnival, in front of an energetic crowd, Koudjay proved to be one of the most entertaining bands around. Despite technical difficulties, the pulsing rhythm got the crowd immediately on their feet. With songs like "Chans pou Ayiti," and the 2000 carnival song, "Nap tan-n yo" and "laye," the crowd picked up their flags and started waving and jumping. Many took the opportunity to buy "Haiti" t-shirts and straw hats for the carnival. "Lè tanbou frape tout Ayisyen kanpe," When drumming begins Haitians get up, as the saying goes, proved to be true. As Koudjay says in the song about the Haitians evicted from Dominican Republic, "nap tan-n yo," "we're waiting for them." The area has been waiting for a group racine for a long time, and with the energy the community received the group, it was long overdue. WACAHAPA made a great effort to bring the spirit and culture of Haiti to Washington, DC for carnival. And, oh yeah, "Marie Rose, oh!" ©, 7.2002