Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans

WXPN, University of Pennsylvania



Haitian band Lakou Mizik, part of WXPN's Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans project. Photo by Maxence Bradley.

WXPN will examine Haitian influences on the music, culture, and community of New Orleans through a project that aims to contextualize Haiti as a historically important nation through its considerable artistic and musical traditions. Because of the island’s Caribbean location, its history as a Spanish and French colony, and past trade enabled by West African slaves, Haiti’s music is richly diverse in styles, incorporating native Taíno, African, French, and Spanish influences. These cultural traditions made their way to New Orleans when more than 10,000 free and enslaved Haitians immigrated to the city after the slave uprising at the turn of the 19th century. Kanaval will study and celebrate the origins, history, and persistent influence of Haitian culture with several concerts featuring significant Haitian and Haitian American artists—including Boukman Eksperyans, RAM, Lakou Mizik, Leyla McCalla, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The concert series will culminate in a centerpiece performance evoking the processional feel of Haitian Kanaval, an annual weeks-long celebration leading up to Mardi Gras. Additionally, WXPN will develop a yearlong series of public radio stories, an NPR-distributed radio documentary created by award-winning radio producer Alex Lewis, and a multimedia website.

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.