Ti Ayiti, Alaso! Little Haiti, Charge!

From Boukman’s command to listen to the voice of liberty that speaks in the hearts of us all to the strains of “Grenadye, alaso!” in Haiti’s final battle for independence to the spicy pulse of rara bands spanning the Brooklyn Bridge in 1990, the spunky spirit of resistance endures in the hearts of Haiti’s children. Through a series of legislative victories, the Haitian community of New York and its representatives in government have created Little Haiti, and the message is, “We’re not going anywhere!” Join Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, State Senator Kevin S. Parker, MTA New York City Transit, Little Haiti Brooklyn NY, CUNY Haitian Studies Institute, Haiti Cultural Exchange, and La Troupe Makandal in a celebration of the latest victory: the unveiling of Newkirk Avenue–Little Haiti subway stop. Festivities begin at 11 am on Thursday, November 18, 2021.

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We Remember: A Community Memorial for Those We Lost in the Time of COVID

Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 6–9 PM EDT at Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Join Makandal as it takes part in We Remember, an interactive memorial honoring the lives of some 52,000 New Yorkers who left us in the time of COVID-19. Greenwood Cemetery has donated use of its 5th Avenue fence for a memorial launch on June 8. The memorial will remain up for viewing until June 28. The launch begins with a procession followed by a dedication and culminates in music, dance, and opportunities to add nameplates.

La Troupe Makandal will honor those on the other side with a music-and-dance performance! Be ready to participate… Continue reading

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Call the Drum Spirit 2017

Presented by Makandal, in partnership with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) and the Eugene Lang College at The New School


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Save the Date! Call the Drum Spirit 2017

The Makandal Drummers
Fanmi Asotò, with Master Drummer Fanfan Tanbou René

Co-sponsored by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance

Admission and address details to come

This program is made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

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Tales from the Archive: A Message from Ti Kelep

The waistcoat was one of Frisner’s favorites, and he wore it often on stage. A basic black, it featured two welt pockets, a pointed front, and a closure that he never buttoned down—banking, of course, on the sex appeal of an open vest. Over time he had pinned the front panels with some dozen buttons in assorted sizes, shapes, and colors, bearing equally diverse messages: “Socialist Scholar 1995,” “I and I Survive,” “Condoms across the Board,” and more. On the evening of February 16, 2012, in a concert at the Institut Français Haïti in Port-au-Prince, he wore it over a white corporate logo t-shirt, but the shirt, too, was sleeveless, exposing a pair of sinewy biceps that glistened in the spotlight as he pounded the drum for Ogou, Vodou’s consummate warrior and his own spiritual master. The sheer power of this performance masked the poignant paradox that it would be his last… Continue reading

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Banbòch Gede! Gede Bash! Celebrate the Day of the Dead, Haitian Style

Makandal invites you to dance with the dead and rise again!
Saturday, November 19, 8 pm – 1:30 am
Tafari Tribe Globe Trade, 593 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn (map)

For the third year in a row, we present our Banbòch Gede, this time in collaboration with Bohio Music (vocalist Riva Nyri Précil and guitarist Monvelyno Alexis) and Makini Sacred Arts (Makini Armand).

And how will the night look?

  • Live music with Bohio Music
  • More live music with The Makandal Drummers
  • Hot Gede dancing with Agathina Ginoue
  • Food, drink, and offerings by Makini Sacred Arts
  • Jewelry and accessories by Gamonde
  • Tribal organic face painting by Fruiggie
  • Gede costume contest

Transportation to the venue:
B, Q to Prospect Park
2, 5 to Sterling Place

buttonTickets $15
Purchase on Paypal
(tap the skull to the left, and see how she swallows your money)
Buy at the door

Featured image by Kesler Pierre

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Tales from the Archive: Tangled Roots

The spotlight caught him in one of his star moments: seated at a conga in a red Kesler Pierre t-shirt for the Vodou spirit of love (her dazzling heart crowned with the word “Makandal”); a cluster of New Orleans-style carnival beads around his neck; a white kufi on his head; and fingers poised to embroider venerable sonic memories into a new groove. The audience ceased its shuffling, and his solo started, rhapsodic at first and then settling into a gentle yanvalou. He reached into his bag of musical tricks and wrapped his hands around ibo and then zaryen (with a little Carnival detour along the way). Now he was ready for the kill—an ever so cool transition to mayi that drew sighs of pleasure and applause from the audience, and a pitch-bending motif executed with elbow and chin. Frisner Augustin returned to mayi for a razor-sharp cadence, and a stage-left gesture of invitation to the celebrated jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille. Vodou and jazz were ready to dig deep into their tangled roots. Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: Remembering Jocelyne

Frisner popped the audiocassette into his car’s player, and the music started. “Le voix là, le voix les anges, le voix là, le voix les cieux, nous prions qui sous la terre, sous la terre comme dans les cieux, le voix là, le voix les anges.” That was Frisner himself singing lead in the opening phrases of Makandal’s first album, A Trip to Voodoo. Makandal had recorded in Queens on a frosty day in January 1982. Summer was now closing, and ayibobo! We finally had a copy, and A Trip would be released any day now. The track continued, now in Kreyòl. “Nou tout se zany o, zany anbarase mwen…” “We are all angels, oh, angels surround me…” As if on cue, at 2 min 4 sec, the voice of an angel flew in. But what an angel! Her sound carried a curious and original blend of nasal resonance and ringing solidity. “Who’s that?” I asked Frisner. “Jocelyne.” I scolded myself for noticing Jocelyne’s special talent only now, then sat back to indulge in more. Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: My Diploma Is the Drum

In the summer of 1999 the cat was out of the bag that Frisner Augustin had won the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Frisner’s (and Haiti’s) coup inspired Jocelyn McCalla—most of us call him Johnny—to invite Frisner to his weekly TGIT. And what was TGIT? Every Thursday night during the summer the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), which McCalla directed, held an evening gathering in its capacious Manhattan headquarters. TGIT (Thank Goodness It’s Thursday) celebrated the end of the week, albeit it a shade early. Those who attended enjoyed drinks and appetizers, banter ranging from light to challenging, the pleasure of company new and old, and a most splendid balcony view of Mr. Sun bedding down for the night over the Hudson River. Enter Frisner, diploma in hand… Continue reading

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Call the Drum Spirit Community Forum

Friday, June 24, 7 pm
The Great Room (2nd floor) of South Oxford Space
138 South Oxford Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (map)

Makandal presents a community brase lide (brah-say lee-day, Haitian Kreyòl for brainstorming session) led by writers, scholars, cultural activists, and artists. What is the current state of documentation of Haitian Vodou drumming? Do you feel this cultural treasure merits more attention? Given Vodou’s status as a historically persecuted spiritual tradition, what, if any, are the limits of documentation? Who should be conducting it? Where and how? What is the role of the community? What is your role? Continue reading

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