From Haïti we only know in France what deals with crisis. Earthquake, cholera, corruption, poor people and NGOs.
Cultural life is rich on this island which used to be a french colony under Napoleon. This fact is widely hidden behind a screen of arrogant taboos: no way remembering here that there was born the first ever Black Republic by slaves insurrection in 1804.
There music is everywhere. Why then wonder that people play violin ?
After my meeting with Kanès in violin-maker Jean-Christophe Graff's workshop in Strasbourg, I'm going to discover Dessaix-Baptiste Music School in Jacmel, a city in South-East Haïti.

with Pierre Bernier, sound engineer — 2014

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Carnival parade, Jacmel. This man covered with mud plays the "lanceur de corde", a costume remembering slavery time in Haïti. He and his fellows painted with mud or tyre charcoal mixed with sugar cane molasse hunt for people in the audience in order to make them dirty.
Jacmel from the roof of DB Music School
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DBMS' brass band tuning before the concert they're going to give on the opening of the new touristic warf in Jacmel, February 14th. President of the Republic of Haït is going to attend the event.
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Concert for the opening of the new touristic warf in Jacmel.
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The band really cares finishing its piece under heavy rain before leaving the stage. Congas are drowned, useless. Musicians took shelter under a little house, they start to improvise, waiting for the rain to stop.
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Kanès the oboe teacher also repairs stringed instruments in his workshop at school. Most of them are really old and damaged. Occasionnal seminars with "Luthiers without borders" NGO allow him to complete his skills. He got a three months internship in Strasbourg organized by the Jacmel-Strasbourg cooperation partnership.
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Dessaix-Baptiste Music School now welcomes more than thousand students who come between their lessons or after work to practice. School is lacking money to allow them to borrow an instrument each to practice at home.
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Richardson (right) improvises with colleagues after a brass band rehearsal. He was picked up to play in a charity concert in Washington DC which should be generous financially to the school, which runs mostly on donations from abroad charities and volunteer professors giving a hand for the summer camps.
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School hires three cuban volunteers as professors plus the haitian staff.
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Sight-reading sheet music. It's hard but students are very enthusiast.
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Music students are from various social backgrounds. A scholarship system allows the humblest people to study for free. Here the youngest play football on the roof — which is a rehearsal space. Saxophone lesson is often near the percussion one.
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String orchestra rehearsal. School is housing several orchestras and brass bands from different levels. She gives sometimes birth to more professional bands like Jazzy Blue.
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Mardi Gras is a very important festive moment in Haïti. Bars play music very loud and every year all famous haïtian bands record their "meringue" — the Carnival hits, which play non-stop from mid-January until Ash Wednesday.
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Bandapye in the carnival parade. These moving percussion and wind instrument orchestras are typical from haitian culture and play at different times all year long. They write their own songs, cover the meringues and bring to life the time preceding Carnival from afternoon until late at night. A crowd of fans of all ages run after and before them.
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Meeting with BelO, haitian musician and producer very popular in Haïti and known internationally through the RFI award. Artists from his country don't get subsidies from the State and cultural events are mostly sponsored by corporations or private foundations. Current President of the Republic of Haïti, Michel Martelly, is however known as the self-declared "king of konpa" — a 100% haitian music style close to zouk.
Port-au-Prince, Martissant area. Rara band musicians rehearsing. They sing the tune until they memorize it. Fans are there to learn the chorus.
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Each "konè" (zinc horn) plays only one note — musicians must be in perfect coordination.
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Sanba Arena, a drum school created in Port-au-Prince by Sanba Kebyesou. Jackson improvises with his friend Richardson.
Port-au-Prince graveyard view.