Haitian singer Emeline Michel celebrates the release of her latest CD, Quintessence, which has been five years in the making, with a glorious display of Creole soul March 8 and 9 at Harlem Stage. Two Haitian writers of note featured on the new recording will perform alongside Michel: novelist Edwidge Danticat and legendary storyteller Jean-Claude Martineau will read their poetry and recite stories about the power of their nation's spirit, backed by a 12-piece band. Classically-trained Haitian tenor James Germain also shares the spotlight, displaying fresh and unexpected aspects of Haiti's diverse culture.
Ms. Michel - whose indelible presence gained wide exposure during 2010's "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief" telethon - has cultivated a vibrant career as a Haitian musical ambassador. Dubbed "the Joni Mitchell of Haiti" for her astute musical poetry, she's seen as a source of inspiration by her fellow Haitians at home and abroad, compatriots whose land has been challenged by natural disaster and political turmoil but blessed with a rich culture that has been infused by an indomitable spirit and hope.
Brimming with traditional Haitian rhythms but also featuring her unique and spirited musical creations in the traditions of folk and acoustic jazz, Quintessence is filled with a yearning for, and memories of, Ms. Michel's homeland.
The performances will aim to translate the direct emotion and organic collaboration from the studio to the stage. "I'll be inviting the audience to share in the chemistry, mutual respect and passion for country that the artists share," says Michel, adding that Harlem Stage is the best place she could think of to launch her new CD. "It's such a nurturing, loving place for artists, and when I'm at the Gatehouse I embrace it like it's my own home."
Harlem Stage's director of programming Brad Learmonth offers, "Emeline is a unique and very special performer. She's been part of our artistic family for several years and we're delighted that she's chosen to launch her latest project with us. From our 2010 post-earthquake summer concert Konbit Pou Ayiti (Working Together for Haiti) to the development of Makandal, an opera centered on the life of the legendary Haitian revolutionary that premieres next year, we are committed to using our programming to advance support for Haiti and raise awareness of its rich culture."
TICKETS: Tickets for each performance, which begins at 7:30pm, are $35 and available by phone at (212)281-9240 and online at www.harlemstage.org.
Over 30 years Harlem Stage has become one of the nation's leading arts organizations, achieving this distinction through the commissioning and presenting of challenging, relevant and topical performances by artists of color and bringing them to socially conscious audiences in the communities it serves. Harlem Stage has a long-standing tradition of supporting such artists -- around the corner and across the globe -- including legends such as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Sekou Sundiata, Abbey Lincoln, Sonia Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente, as well as contemporary artists like Bill T. Jones, Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, Tania León, Carl Hancock Rux, Nora Chipaumire and Jason Moran. Its education programs each year provide 10,000 New York City children with access to a world of diverse cultures through the performing arts. In 2006, Harlem Stage opened the landmarked, award-winning Harlem Stage Gatehouse - in an abandoned space that was once the source of fresh water flowing to New York City, and is now a vital source of creativity, ideas and culture. For more information, visit www.harlemstage.org.