Investigartes: Artes, Educación y Filosofía

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PERFORMING HAITI, PRESERVING HERITAGE: A journey through race, place, and language.


Author: Magdala Desgranges, PhD


Introduction: Emeline Michel’s transnational and temporal Caribbean fusion is embedded within her musical artistry in both form and content.

Objective: The singer, songwriter, and performer’s cultural cadence resonates throughout the entirety of the album Rasin Kréyol (Creole Roots) as it embodies an earthy, soulful and passionate undertone of her reminiscence and allegiance to Haiti. “Nasyon Solèy” (“Nation of the Sun”) is an anthem in duality about the country and its people but also a temporal charge of remembrance and responsibility to the Diaspora.  Orality is the ancient vocal space navigated that breathes life and communicates race, space, community and identity, through her lyrical verbiage and stage presence.


Methodology: Emeline Michel’s multimodal orality in “Nasyon Solèy” will be analyzed by a concept I developed called the Lambi Mode, a theory and model I created to analyze Caribbean identity.  As a participant observer, I examine, using a critical narrative approach, how she used orality back and forth between her “Nasyon Soley" recording and her live concert performance at Brooklyn College in 2017.  

Analysis of Results: I argue that she challenges the “one-sided historicity” presented in influential ideologies while centering her musicality around building awareness and preserving  community and the heritage of her homeland through indigenous tonal retentions.

Conclusion: Emeline Michel’s polylayered musical performance engages the audience in a call and response modality that forges a circular community engagement, rather than a linear hierarchical spectrum.  Furthermore, her orality, presented as a space of cultural retention, encapsulates a temporal and transnational duality that speaks to the political facet of historicity and communicates Caribbean heritage to listeners of the African Diaspora and beyond.

Keywords: Transnational, temporal, Caribbean, Identity, Emeline Michel







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