“Septentrional is the Buena Vista Social Club of Haiti.”We keep hearing this comparison as we prepare for the premiere of When the Drum is Beating, premiering April 12, 2012 at 10 PM on Independent Lens (check your local listings). While it’s true that both bands are the musical identity of a country for some people, Haiti’s music is the sum of infinite parts, with an amalgam of influences and styles that combine to create layers of sound, borrowing from everywhere (Europe, Africa, Latin America) to create something entirely unique.
Haiti’s most famous musical son is Wyclef Jean, co-founder of the Fugees and a successful solo recording artist and producer living in the United States. Inside Haiti, music is the heartbeat of a country that has faced generations of tragedy and hardship, but always found time to sing and dance.
Haitian music can generally be divided into genres, from more traditional jazz (as typified by Septentrional, in When the Drum is Beating) and hip-hop, to only-in-Haiti flavors such as vodou, Kompa, and mizik rasin.
In an effort to collect a kind of tasting menu of popular Haitian music, we’ve put together a Spotify playlist with a little of everything, and something for everyone. Just see if this doesn’t get your feet tapping.
Listen: When the Drum: Haiti Playlist.