Haitian glitz and glamour

The Haitian community loves music and it should come as no surprise that they should have an awards’ ceremony – their version of the Grammys/Oscars with all the accompanying glitz and glamour, red carpet and all.

This was the second edition of Compas on Broadway on April 23 celebrating the stature music holds in Haitian culture. While the guys looked good, the women looked fabulous. (An insider revealed that after the first edition two years ago, websites had lists of the best and worst dressed. That put a lot of pressure on the women to look great and they did!)

“Musicians and industry professionals have come together in unity to rebuild their country physically, emotionally, and politically,” Executive Director and founder Urbain Richard wrote in the event’s program.

“We remember those, whom we lost on the tragic afternoon of Jan. 12, 2010.” In electing Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, he writes, “Once again music has proven to be interwoven in the fabric of Haitian society.”

The red carpet event was held in the sophisticated lobby of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Musicians, spouses and industry professionals stopped for photos and video interviews while walking the red carpet, which was emblazoned with “Compas on Broadway.”

Along with the musical celebs, the wife, son and grandchildren of founder of Compas Direct, Neours Jean-Baptiste, walked the red carpet.

Jazz musician Melanie Charles started the evening playing the guitar and singing accompanied by brother saxophonist Roger Charles. Except for this duo, large and larger bands entertained during the proceedings.

Particularly moving was when old-timer Toto Necessitie, a Compas legend, joined Reginald Cange (who later won the Best Male Vocalist) in singing one of Toto’s cover songs.

The event itself is still working out the kinks of a smoothly running show. MC Richie (Jean-Herard Richard) of the band Zenglen acknowledged this and at one point said, “Bear with us” while the audience suffered a few hiccups along the way. One musician audience member murmured, “They need a really good stage manager and cooperating musicians.” Nonetheless, the audience enjoyed the glow and the vibes.

Saxophonist Buyu Ambroise was completely surprised when it was announced (and deserved) that he won in the Best Haitian Jazz Artist category, “This is the first music award I’ve ever received.”

Anderson Cooper received a standing ovation when he received a special award for his earthquake coverage with CNN. Cooper mentioned how Haiti was in his heart every day.

Jean Elie Telfort “Cubano” received a Living Legend Award and the new president of Haiti, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, who was not present, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wyclef Jean sporting a tinny fabricated jacket, a practically shaved head and a beard was barely recognizable accepting his special award.

Presenting charming artisan wall pieces as the awards, awards were given to many industry professionals and supporters of Compas music by Haiti’s Minister of Culture Marie-Laurence Jocelyn- Lassegue.

During the evening, other presenters were Jamie Hector of The Wire, Ron Dutrot, celebrity chef, and Mona Scott Young of VHS (1).

Popular singer Alan Cave, roots band Boukman Eksperyans, (winner of Best Racine Band), the band Cubano and singer King Kino were among the performances between the awards’ announcements.

Some of the other winners were Gazzman Couleur, Male Artist of the Year; Misty Jean, Female Artist of the Year; Disip de Gazzman Couleur, Band of the Year (full band format); T-Vice, Band of the Year (mini band format); Felina Backer, Best Female Vocalist of Song of the Year; Fanm Sa Move by CaRiMi feat; MikaBen, Album of the Year.

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