Haiti – Music, Art & Politics

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

RAM singers
▲ RAM cuts loose at the Oloffson Hotel

Haiti may have been knocked flat by the earthquake, but the music and art is as vibrant as ever. On my previous, pre-earthquake, visit to Port-au-Prince I stayed at the Oloffson Hotel and caught RAM on their regular Thursday night appearance. The Oloffson was the Hotel Trianon in Graham Greene’s Papa Doc novel The Comedians. And RAM is the house band, voodoo jazz (or correctly vodou jazz).

The earthquake may have changed plenty, but not RAM. They’re still fantastic, fronted by Lunise and two seductively athletic dancers, backed up by 12 musicians. For me the highlight is always when the three rara horn players put down their other instruments and pick up the rara horns.

Cue the rara horns
▲ Cue the rara horn players.

Haitian art is the most active and alive in the Caribbean and earthquake themes appear in some recent works. Last trip I bought a couple of paintings by naïve artist Gerard. ▼
Gerard Painting

Zepherin painting◄ A Franz Zepherin painting of St George

And a couple of vodou-infused paintings by Franz Zepherin. Since my last visit Zepherin has caught on internationally and his prices have inflated by a factor of 10.






Perhaps the new president Mickey Martelly (‘Sweet Mickey’) will make a difference, after all he was a Haitian music star before he turned to politics. A street art portrait of the president. ▼
Sweet Mickey