Presentation: Echoes of “Haiti Cherie” in the “koloni”
In the 1930’s, an expatriate Haitian penned the nostalgic méringue “Haiti Cherie”, a classic of the Haitian musical commentary on emigration. With the formation of the dyaspo (diaspora) in North America (1950s to the present), however, the transnational status of the Haitian population has been captured in thousands of songs that have alternately celebrated the “kolonis” (“colonies”, i.e. Haitian communities abroad), bemoaned the hardships of emigration and the treatment of immigrants and refugees, advocated for rights, or boasted of newfound success. The myriad and contradictory accounts of Haitian emigration/immigration can’t be distilled into a theme, but they can be read as an adaptation to a transitional identity; through their circulation they come to define new boundaries and to maintain that identity; and in their diverse articulations of migratory experience they provide a narrative supporting migrants in their ongoing negotiation over status, visibility/voice, rights and identity.
Presenter: Dr. Gage Averill has over-30-years of research into Haitian popular music, which has produced an award-winning book and a Grammy-nominated CD box set, and a string of works dealing specifically with the cultural geography and politics of music related to Haitian immigration.
This talk is one of the events in Cape Breton University’s International Council for Traditional Music (ITCM) Symposium on the theme “Songs and Stories of Migration & Encounter”