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Katherine Dunham with Louinès Louinis
Katherine Dunham with Louinès Louinis

Haitian Diaspora Oral Histories

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The Haitian Diaspora Oral History Digital Collection includes videos and outlines of oral history interviews conducted with individuals of Haitian ancestry that are well-renowned in the world of the arts. In these interviews, musicians, artists, and writers explore the creative process, often through the lens of the diaspora experience, while showcasing the Haitian influence in the arts.

Additional interviews from the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Collection are available for research upon request in the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. A full description and list of all materials in this collection are available in the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Collection Finding Aid.

These oral histories express the views, memories and opinions of the interviewee. They do not represent the viewpoints of the University of Miami, its officers, agents, employees, or volunteers. The University of Miami makes no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in these interviews and expressly disclaims any liability therefor.

Copyright to these materials lies with the University of Miami. It may not be reproduced, retransmitted, published, distributed, or broadcast without the permission of the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. For information about obtaining copies or to request permission to publish any part of an interview, please contact Special Collections at asc@miami.edu.

Below is information on the interviews that are currently available.

Erol Josué

Interview with Erol Josué, a Haitian musician, performer, healer, and houngan (Vodou priest) who has performed worldwide educating audiences about Haitian culture and dispelling myths about Vodou spirituality.

Smith Jean-Baptiste

Interview with Smith Jean-Baptiste, the influential percussionist in the konpa band Les Shleu Shleu, which formed in Haiti in 1966, moved to New York in the 1970s, and is now based in South Florida.

Adlore Casseus “Empress Addi”, and Patrick Dorce

Interview with Adlore Casseus “Empress Addi”, and Patrick Dorce of Rara Rock, a Haitian roots world beat band based in North Miami. Casseus is the singer and Dorce is the guitar player for the band, which performs in the rara style.

Frantz “Kiki” Wainwright

Interview with Frantz “Kiki” Wainwright, a playright, singer, actor, and dancer involved with Sosyete Koukouy, a group dedicated to preserving Haitian culture in the United States, who also helped form the band Ayabonmbe

Viktor El-Saieh

Interview with Viktor El-Saieh, a painter and grandson of Haitian bandleader Issa El-Saieh, who amassed a large private collection of Haitian art. The interview takes place in the El-Saieh Gallery in Port-au-Prince, which has hosted many well-known Haitian artists.

Viktor El-Saieh

Interview with Viktor El-Saieh, a painter and grandson of Haitian bandleader Issa El-Saieh, who amassed a large private collection of Haitian art. This interview takes place before the opening of Viktor's show, Historical Precedence, at the Tomm El-Saieh Gallery in Miami.

Louis Leslie Marcelin “Sanba Zao”

Interview with Louis Leslie Marcelin, an influential mizik racine (roots music) artist better known as “Sanba Zao” in the Haitian music community, who also runs the Bazilo École Communautaire with his wife Mireille in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Markus Schwartz and Monvelyno Alexis of Vo-Duo and Louis Leslie Marcelin “Sanba Zao”

Interview with Markus Schwartz and Monvelyno Alexis of Vo-Duo and Louis Leslie Marcelin “Sanba Zao,” recorded during the 2012 Zakafest at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami.

Monvelyno Alexis

Interview with Monvelyno Alexis, a Haitian musician in the sanba tradition based in Brooklyn, NY, who also paints using the Veve imagery of Vodou.

Jean-Phillipe Guillaume

Interview with Jean-Phillipe Guillaume, the creator and engineer of Mizikpam.com, an online Haitian music aggregator similar to Pandora, Last.Fm, and Spotify.

Michèle Jessica Fièvre

Interview with Michèle Jessica Fièvre, a South Florida writer and teacher who grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and is involved in the Women Writers of Haitian Descent, Inc.

Yves Joseph

Interview with Yves Joseph, manager and vocalist for Tabou Combo, a group that formed in Haiti in 1967 with roots in the konpa tradition and has performed around the world.

Sophia Lacroix

Interview with Sophia Lacroix, a Haitian-born painter based in South Florida who uses a hyperrealism style to create a vision of Haiti that conjures up images of her childhood with nostalgic portraits of everyday Haitians.

Max Rameau

Interview with Max Rameau, the most publicly know activist with Take Back the Land who also leads the Center for Pan-African Development, and has worked extensively with Brothers of the Same Mind and Cop Watch.