Haitian singer Emeline Michel celebrates the release of her latest CD, Quintessence, which has been five years in the making, with a glorious display of Creole soul March 8 and 9 at Harlem Stage. Two Haitian writers of note featured on the new recording will perform alongside Michel: novelist Edwidge Danticat and legendary storyteller Jean-Claude Martineau will read their poetry and recite stories about the power of their nation’s spirit, backed by a 12-piece band. Classically-trained Haitian tenor James Germain also shares the spotlight, displaying fresh and unexpected aspects of Haiti’s diverse culture.
Ms. Michel – whose indelible presence gained wide exposure during 2010’s “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” telethon – has cultivated a vibrant career as a Haitian musical ambassador. Dubbed “the Joni Mitchell of Haiti” for her astute musical poetry, she’s seen as a source of inspiration by her fellow Haitians at home and abroad, compatriots whose land has been challenged by natural disaster and political turmoil but blessed with a rich culture that has been infused by an indomitable spirit and hope.
Brimming with traditional Haitian rhythms but also featuring her unique and spirited musical creations in the traditions of folk and acoustic jazz, Quintessence is filled with a yearning for, and memories of, Ms. Michel’s homeland.
The performances will aim to translate the direct emotion and organic collaboration from the studio to the stage. “I’ll be inviting the audience to share in the chemistry, mutual respect and passion for country that the artists share,” says Ms. Michel, adding that Harlem Stage is the best place she could think of to launch her new CD. “It’s such a nurturing, loving place for artists, and when I’m at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse I embrace it like it’s my own home.”
Harlem Stage’s director of programming Brad Learmonth said, “Emeline is a unique and very special performer. She’s been part of our artistic family for several years and we’re delighted she’s chosen to launch her latest project with us. From our 2010 post-earthquake summer concert Konbit Pou Ayiti (Working Together for Haiti) to the development of Makandal, an opera centered on the life of the legendary Haitian revolutionary that premieres next year, we are committed to using our programs to support Haiti and raise awareness of its rich culture.”
Quintessence Tour Calendar
March 8 and 9 -Harlem Stage, Quintessence (Cd release show)
150 Convent Ave., New York, NY
March 21: Karibe Convetion Center Haiti, Quintessence (Cd release show) Ville De Pétion-Ville, Ouest, Haiti
March 22: Fokal Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty
March 24: Moca Cafe Miami Cd release party/show, 738 NE 125th Street, Miami, FL
April 12: Space 57 (fundraiser for Haiti Projects), 200 Stuart Street, Boston, MA
April 19: Big night in little Haiti, 212 NE 59 Terrace, Miami, Florida
April 26: Carnegie Hall musical connection (educational program), 881 7th Avenue, New York, NY
May 10: Haiti Cultural Exchange Film fest Opening Night Reception
May 11: Casa Seabra (fundraiser for ADED), 255 Jefferson St. Newark, NJ
May 18: Haitian Compas Festival, Bayfront Park Amphitheater Miami, Floirda
June 8: Creole TV-NYC 3rd Annual Spring Gala, Mirelle’s, 170 Post Ave, Westbury, NY
July 21: Hotel Adria (fundraiser for Holy Family Church), 221-17 Northern Blvd., Bayside, NY