April 2016. Singer, songwriter and guitarist, Mélissa Laveaux heads to Haiti in search of her roots and on a mission to honor her ancestors. Two decades have gone by since she last set foot on the island when she was 12 years old. She feels like a stranger and yet, at the same time, she experiences the thrill of an exile returning home, for Haiti is an intrinsic part of her identity.
Born in Canada to Haitian parents and armed with a patched-together vocabulary of Creole from the metaphor-laden expressions and vibrant catch-phrases she’s heard her mother trade with her aunts over long-distance phone calls, she doesn’t know what will emerge musically from her pilgrimage. But as she dives in and discovers the folk songs that bred and nourished Haitians artists for generations, she is seduced by the depth and opulence of her extraordinary heritage.
She returned home from Haiti with a head full of sounds, melodies, moods and stories of distant times, as a track-list emerged, rich in the multi-layered allegories and symbolism that are characteristic of Haitian poetry and song, like a coded language of resistance against the American Occupation in the period 1914-1935. From these she built Radyo Siwèl, a unique album steeped in Haitian history and culture and yet which is also highly personal and intimate.
After the success of her last album “Dying is has Wild Night” (No Format in 2013), Mélissa Laveauxrevisits here brilliantly the Haitian directory of 1920s folk songs, pastoral hymns and Vaudoos or Christian hymns, mixing the modernity of the afro-beat and the indie rock with the tradition of “Merengue” the Haitian music and dance.