Haitian star meets Midcoast
Before performing at Rockland’s Strand Theatre Saturday, Nov. 3, Haitian reggae star BélO will share his music, message and culture with the Midcoast thanks to Bay Chamber’s Community Engagement Program.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, BélO and his five-piece band will perform for inmates and staff at Maine State Prison in the morning. Later, at 6:30 p.m., he will host a free, unplugged Artist Encounter in the recital hall of Bay Chamber Community Music School, 18 Central St. BélO’s participation is supported by Center for Cultural Exchange Foundation and New England Foundation for the Arts.
Community Engagement at Bay Chamber is designed to promote connection and musical engagement between artists and participants. At its core is artistic excellence — professional musicians who combine spectacular artistic ability with a dedication to bringing the transformative power of music into communities. Understanding that each venue has its own unique needs and goals, Community Engagement is collaboration between the presenting organization and the partner organizations. To engage with people of diverse ages, backgrounds and abilities, Bay Chamber welcomes classically trained musicians as well as performers of musical genres.
The free evening Artist Encounter with BélO is open to the community. The artist will take advantage of the intimate setting to perform an acoustic sampling of his songs. In addition, he will discuss Haitian culture, the messages in his songwriting and answer questions.
Internationally known singer/songwriter and guitarist BélO was born in Haiti in 1979. A socially conscious musician with a sophisticated sound, he is the winner of numerous awards including the prestigious Prix Radio France International Discoveries of 2006. After the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, BélO's home was fractured and he was able to relocate temporarily in France with the help of Cultures France. During that time, BélO's primary focus was to create awareness for his country at various performances around the world.
In a country where music is everywhere, BélO grew up hearing Latin-inflected, high-energy Haitian konpa and the rising wave of vodou-rock bands like Boukman Eksperyans, as well as French pop and Jamaican music from dancehall star Buju Banton to Bob Marley. Another source of deep musical influence was the vodou music of the countryside. His own music — which can leap from R&B grooves to clever jazz-inflected chords and from punchy brass to undulating bass — further evolved as he gained international acclaim in Europe and made friends in the Francophone African music scene in Paris.
"Haitian music has kept a lot of what roots music from Africa was 400 years ago. We're just one small island. But you can find rhythms from different countries from across the African continent,” he said of his country’s rich musical tradition.
Seating is limited for the Thursday night event; call 236-2823 to reserve a spot. Tickets to see BélO and his five-piece band Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Strand are $35; $25 for ages 21 to 35; and $10 for those younger than 22.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.