Boukman Eksperyans

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Lolo Beabrund
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 Boukman Eksperyans
Boukman Eksperyans © Tropical Music

Article

Haiti´s roots´ activists

On Haiti, rootsí music has had a revival in the last few years. The band Boukman Eksperyans combines traditional voodoo motifs with up to date political messages.
Boukman Eksperyans is the banner-bearer of mizik rasin, the rootsí music strongly coloured by Haitian African traditions. The groupís name refers to the Haitian myth about the slave Boukman Jetty, who in 1804 instigated an uprising which led to the Islandís independence. The group sees itself as being the mouthpiece of Haitiís black population, whose culture has been repressed by various governments, even since the end of the colonial period.

The group Boukman Eksperyans was founded in 1978, while the dictator ĎBaby Docí Duvalier was still in power, by Lolo Beabrund, whose father was a well known comedian on the island. As a child Lolo Beabrund followed his mother to the USA, where he later studied before returning to Haiti in 1978.

After researching into the origins of voodoo culture, the group appeared for the first time in the 80s as a live band, whose music and instruments combine traditional and modern features. Its members sing in Haitiís Creole language, whose subversive potential led to its being forbidden by various governments. Boukman Eksperyans interest in voodoo, the islandís hybrid folk-religion, is shown in the way in which it borrows old religious and African motifs from Haitiís modern everyday culture.

On Haiti, Boukman Eksperyans is known for its plain political attitudes. The reactions towards it of various governments on the island in the last couple of decades have varied with the political situation. In 1989 for instance its piece Wet Chenn won the first prize in a music competition, but after the military coup díétat against the President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the group was no longer allowed to compete. The bandís carnival song Jou Maie was a thorn in the armyís eye in 1992 and was hence forbidden, but even earlier, some of its pieces had been censored. In 1990, for instance, Kem Pa Sote had been banned from radio transmission and so became the hymn of the protest movement which led to the downfall of the ruling General, Prosper Avril.

While the situation on the island was touch and go at the start of the 90s, Boukman Eksperyans received more appreciation and support from abroad. Mango, the sub-label of the record company Island, gave the band a contract, whereby its records were issued for the first time outside Haiti in the 90s. The bandís international debut Kalfou Danjere was even nominated for a Granny in 1993.
Author: Daniel Bax 

Works

Kanaval Rasin - Vodou Adjae

Published Audio,
2000
Converge Records

Live at Red Rocks

Published Audio,
1999
Tuff Gong International

Revolutíon

Published Audio,
1998
Tuff Gong International

Revolusyon!

Published Audio,
1998
Second release of Revolutíon. Tuff Gong/Tropical Music

Libeté (Pran Pou´l!)/Liberty (Let´s Take It!)

Published Audio,
1995
Mango

Libeté

Published Audio,
1995
Mango

Kalfou Danjare

Published Audio,
1992
Island Records

Vodou Adjae

Published Audio,
1991
Mango Records

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audio

"Tipa Tipa"

taken from the CD "Revolisyon"
Tropical Music
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