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Music and the Story of Haiti
on Afropop Worldwide
From Vodou to Compas to Racine to Rara and Beyond
Haiti became the first black-ruled republic in the Americas in 1804, and music has mirrored, and at times shaped, the twists and turns of Haiti's politics and culture ever since. A primary source of Haitian culture is Dahomey, the birthplace of vodou--the most commonly held world view among Haitian people today. We explore how each of Haiti's rulers has championed his own preferred music. The Duvalier dictators favored compas dance music, and suppressed the most African-identified cultural expressions. When Baby Doc was run out of the country in 1986, African-derived racine, or roots, music exploded. Elizabeth McAlister, professor of religion at Wesleyan University, and several community scholars--Jean-Jean Pierre and Holy Nicolas--interweave music and history to tell a dynamic, and at times heart-breaking story. Included in the mix we'll hear the sweet sound of troubadour balladeers, as well as the exuberant tones of rara bands, the call and response of a capela kombit songs of work parties, impassioned choral music of evangelical churches, and the sophisticated, improvisational rhythms used in vodou rituals.



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