To say that I was proud to be Haitian and living in South Florida this weekend would be an understatement. It all started on Friday, December 20th, with singer Wanito performing at Big Night in Little Haiti (BNLH). Presented by Rhythm Foundation, BNLH is a free concert taking place every third Friday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center.
I’d been waiting for Wanito’s performance since October when I first noticed that he would be December’s headliner. Haiti’s always had a great music scene, but now the newer artists are re-imagining traditional Haitian sounds to create their own styles mixed with outside influences.
As Wanito performed, the crowd sung along. When he teased them with “Mwen Bezwen on Mennaj“, a song in which he talks about needing a girlfriend who doesn’t already have a man, the ladies went wild.
Way towards the front of the stage, there was an older man who pretty much knew the words to all of the songs, while I was barely working my way through my favorite, “Gade On Rev”.
Meanwhile in Downtown Miami, it was opening night for Jeanguy Saintus’ AYIKODANS, performing at the Adrienne Arsht Center through 12/23. Managed to get tickets to the Saturday 3PM show before it sold out.
I went with the expectation of reliving the traditional dances I’d remembered from my childhood in Haiti. Instead, I got the essence but delivered in a modern fashion. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing either. After a 15 minute intermission, the drummers, Les Tambours d’Artcho Danse, played their hearts out while Guerline Pierre’s vocals snuck in to accompany them. Following this was the Spider’s Dance. The show ended with standing ovations.
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