A Tribute and Fundraiser for Jacques M. Fortère
Konbit for WaWa funded a tribute to Mr. Fortère, highlighting his achievements on behalf of Haitian music. It also raised funds to help him meet his health challenges. He passed away on April 13, 2020, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. Makandal is grateful that we were able to honor him before he joined the ancestors.
WaWa was a cultural ambassador for Haiti. As a performer he endowed the legacy of Vodou for current and future generations. Diverse sectors—artists, cultural advocates, sponsors, and fans—joined us in celebrating Mr. Fortère and used their networks to share the impact of his work and express deep appreciation for his contributions to the music of Haiti locally and globally.
We held our tribute on November 3 at South Oxford Space in Brooklyn, where we presented him this certificate and donations.
Featured artists: NegBhatalah Drummers and Dancers with Lionel St. Surin and Jean St. Cyr, and Ayiti Bluez
Mèsi, Ernst Sévère of Granchimen Cultural Center for escorting Mr. Fortère!
Biography of Jacques Fortère
Jacques Fortère was born in Port-au-Prince in 1937 of parents from Léogane. He spent some time at the Apprenticeship Center in St. Martin before enlisting in the Haitian army. His musical and artistic career began in Alfred Dorlette’s groups Sentimental and Gaiety. In 1965, WaWa collaborated with two outstanding figures of Haitian popular music: the orchestral saxophonists Némours Jean-Baptiste, and Wébert Sico. He founded the group WaWa et Les Camisoles Bleues, and later the celebrated Rasin Kanga.
A singer-songwriter and cultural interpreter, WaWa emphasized and valorized the
traditional rhythms of Haiti free of commercial filters. He earned international acclaim with such works as his “L’enfer sur la terre” (“Hell on Earth”), a song published in 1966 in tribute to the great African American leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Many recall his stirring Christmas song, “Noel paysan.”
Read a bio of WaWa by Ed Rainer for Haïti Libeté here.
And learn more about him from this article in Le Nouvelliste.
View a video of his work with Les Camisoles Bleues below, and then check the YouTube playlist Makandal built for WaWa.