Haiti’s Grammy-nominated roots rockers whose emotionally-charged lyrics energized a movement and became a rallying cry for change in their island-nation, are back in South Florida.
Boukman Eksperyans will headline Big Night in Little Haiti at the Little Haiti Cultural Center (212 NE 59th Terrace) from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16. They are the latest Haitian music band that will be gracing the stage at the free concert and arts event, which takes place the third Friday of each month.
Opening the event will be local Haitian Creole Jazz quartet, the Blue Stones.
Laura Quinlan of The Rhythmn Foundation, which produces Big Night in Little Haiti, said the Boukman’s showcase coincides with the local Haitian consulate’s celebration this month of Mizik Rasin or roots music. Prior to Friday’s performance, band members will give a free lecture at noon at in the Graham Center at Florida International University South campus (11200 S.W. 8th St.). The lecture is being sponsored by the university’s Latin American and Caribbean Center.
“When you have a band like Boukmon, you want to do as much as you can,” Quinlan said.
Formed in 1978 by Théodore “Lolo” Beaubrun Jr. and his wife Mimerose “Manzé” Beaubrun, Boukman Eksperyans first won international acclaim in 1991 when their album Vodou Adjae was nominated for a Grammy. The album featured the group’s most popular and controversial song, Ke’-M Pa Sote.
The song’s now famous lines, “My heart doesn’t leap. I’m not afraid this year,” became a symbol of resistance for Haitians seeking to oust the military rulers who deposed Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a September 1991 coup. Aristide supporters, in turn, used the song as a battle cry for his 1994 return.
In recent years, the band has continued to sing for social and political change in Haiti – even joining the 2004 student and business-community-led movement that forced Aristide’s ouster as president for a second time – by blending Haitian traditional Vodou rhythms with reggae and rock ‘n’ roll rhythms.
In addition to their Grammy nomination, the group was named “Best Kreyol Album and Best Rara Album in 1993 by the Caribbean Music Awards for their album Kalfou Danjere. The album, recorded in 1992, spent 19 weeks on the Billboard world music chart.