She sings the songs that make the whole island sing!
Legendary Haitian songstress and activist Emeline Michel will perform songs from throughout her 30-year career at the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts on March 4. The prolific singer, known for addressing social issues in songs performed in French and Haitian Creole, wants the show to reflect her career spreading Haiti’s music around the world, she said.
“The whole show is about portraying Haitian culture, but broader, and with the wider experience of playing all over the world,” said Michel. “My music is a mix of traditional music from Haiti and songs that I’ve been doing for over 30 years.”
During the two-hour concert, Michel will play some of her hit songs, including “A.K.I.K.O” and “Domi Kole,” alongside a full band of piano, bass, guitar, and conga drums, and two Haitian dancers.
She will also debut some new music.
“There will be a mixture of these songs and new compositions as well,” she said. “I want to make sure I cover all the flavors and bring the element of newness — of what’s current right now.”
Michel says that she looks forward to longtime fans singing along with her classic tunes.
“I’ve been really thrilled lately to see how much people know the words by heart, the moment they hear the sound and first note of the song,” said Michel. “It’s a blessing to share that moment because the words are powerful — I’m always excited about that.”
Michel, who is also a Red Cross ambassador, says being an artist very much like being an activist, and that it is almost impossible to separate social issues from her music.
“One is always intertwined with the other,” she said. “Very early in my career a few of my first songs were about rebuilding our country, planting a tree, and respect for women.”
Those issues are still important to her, and her next project, as yet untitled, will be a collaboration with two other Haitian female artists, designed to address women’s empowerment in the face of greed and corruption.
“One thing we noticed — in the name of money there’s so much corruption going on and the lyrics I’m writing about is really empowering all females to respect themselves,” said Michel. “The context is to respect your self and don’t compromise your integrity. That’s one thing I’m very passionate about at this moment.”
Emeline Michel at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College [2900 Ave. H at Campus Road in Midwood, (718) 951–4500, www.brook
She will also speak at the “Voices of Haiti: Artist as Activists” panel at Woody Tanger Auditorium at the Brooklyn College Library at the same address, March 2 at 6:30 pm. Free.