Songs for Haiti


“Is it possible? Is there ganna be knaval this year?” a woman named Rose asked last night on the Haiti Kanaval blog. “i dont [think] we should celebrate…with all those people dying.”

Rose’s message was only the second on bè since the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince on Tuesday evening. The other was from a woman looking for news about her father. Before that, right until the ground began to shake, there had been a steady stream of comments on the videos of the songs competing in this year’s carnival. I was eagerly following along, having purchased my tickets to the Haitian capital for carnival months ago. Now I’m donating the money I would have spent on my trip to the Stand With Haiti campaign.

There will be no carnival in Haiti this year, but there is Haitian music everywhere in South Florida, commemorating the dead and comforting the living. Wednesday the Boukan night at MOCA Cafe in North Miami went on, with prayers in place of the usual poetry, a moment of silence for producer and promoter Charles Joubert, and a performance by singer Tines Salvant.

This weekend, the Haitian Independence Festival at Broward Central Regional Park, an event where bands often debut their carnival songs, is also likely to be transformed into a vigil and a place to donate supplies for quake survivors. So will the scheduled after parties, like the Sunday fete featuring Carimi and Djakout at Cafe Iguana Pines.

On the island, where the nightclubs have collapsed and the streets are blocked with debris, there will be no fetes. But there will be songs to salve the soul, as there have been through Haiti’s centuries of sorrow. There will be no carnival in Port-au-Prince this year. But there will be music. There will always be music.