One of Haiti's most famous musicians is Lolo Beaubrun. He leads the band Boukman Eksperyans. The group plays a hybrid of rock, reggae and Voodoo trance music. After Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, NPR's John Burnett found Beaubrun at his home. He was in Port-au-Prince grieving for his shattered nation and his lost friends, but hoping for a reborn Haiti.

JOHN BURNETT: When we walked into Lolo's garden yesterday and sat down, he'd invited three young musicians from a group called All Four Stars.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LOLO BEAUBRUN (Musician): (Singing in foreign language)

BURNETT: They back him up on this song that they wrote in the days after, in Lolo's words, that thing that happened to us. In an hour-long interview, he never once said the word earthquake.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. BEAUBRUN and Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)

BURNETT: The song is about the suffering that Haiti is now enduring, about the importance of having faith amid despondency, and of reviving the connection to the spirit world.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. BEAUBRUN: (Singing in foreign language)

We cry a lot. But after we see the country, we need to cross over that sadness.

BURNETT: Lolo and his wife, Mimerose, both 52, make a striking couple: He in an African shirt, tall with dreadlocks down to his waist, she with red-tinted hair, enormous earrings and a single ornamented dreadlock falling below her waist.

Ms. MIMEROSE BEAUBRUN: (Through Translator) We are Haitian. We are always joyful. And this joy that we have, even in our misery, even when we are poor, it's a strength for us - strength to rebuild the country.

BURNETT: Like most of traumatized residents of the Haitian capital, they're afraid of another quake. Though his house was not damaged, they live outside. They cook, eat, sleep and receive visitors here in the garden under the mango tree and coconut palms. A candle burns next to a Bible open to the 23rd Psalm.

Like every Haitian, Lolo and Mimerose lost people dear to them in that thing that happened to us. But the symbolism of an earthquake destroying all the seats of power in their benighted country was not lost on the musical couple.

Mr. BEAUBRUN: We see the symbol down, the palace, the palace of justice, everything down. We were already talking about a new society.

BURNETT: Lolo says the dramatic images of the collapsed National Palace, Supreme Court and ministry buildings that housed a corrupt and incompetent government raise hopes for him that a new society is coming.

(Soundbite of music)

BURNETT: Lolo has been challenging Haitians to demand more from their government ever since he formed Boukman Eksperyans with Mimerose 21 years ago.

(Soundbite of music)

BOUKMAN EKSPERYANS (Rock Fusion Band): (Singing in foreign language)

BURNETT: Lolo sang protest music. His lyrics criticized rulers, and he stood squarely on the side of the beleaguered Haitian people. In 1991, his band had to leave the country because for its musical activism. He also made infectious social protest music.

(Soundbite of music)

BOUKMAN EKSPERYANS: (Singing in foreign language)

BURNETT: Boukman Eksperyans amalgamated Voodoo ceremonial music with rock and reggae - placing trancelike drumming and chanting alongside screaming electric guitars. They played a central role in the Haitian misik rasin movement.

Mr. BEAUBRUN: Rasin means roots. Misik rasin, it's the roots music of Haiti -Voodoo music.

(Soundbite of music)

BOUKMAN EKSPERYANS: (Singing in foreign language)

BURNETT: Beaubrun claims influences from Bob Marley, James Brown and Jimi Hendrix, among others. In fact, the name Boukman Eksperyans is a tribute to The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Boukman comes from Dutty Boukman, a Voodoo high priest and slave leader who led a Voodoo ceremony in 1791 that's considered the beginning of the Haitian Revolution against the French.

Even amid the chaos of the pulverized city, Beaubrun heard about Pat Robertson blaming the earthquake on Haitians' pact with the devil during their fight for independence.

Mr. BEAUBRUN: I don't believe in that God he's talking about, because God is love, is truth and justice. God doesn't accept people's power over other people.

BURNETT: In the universe of Lolo and Mimerose Beaubrun, the hope of love, truth and justice doesn't come from public figures, but it is found in music.

(Soundbite of music)

BOUKMAN EKSPERYANS: (Singing in foreign language)

BURNETT: The lyrics say don't get discouraged. Go inside yourself, where you find the spirit. It'll give you the faith you need to cross over this difficulty.

John Burnett, NPR News, Port-au-Prince.

(Soundbite of music)

BOUKMAN EKSPERYANS: (Singing in foreign language)

INSKEEP: Beautiful harmonies in a horrible situation.

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