Lakou Mizik Explores Haiti's Centuries-Old Connections With New Orleans In 2nd Album Haitian band Lakou Mizik is out with its second album — a dazzling set of collaborations with New Orleans musicians, celebrating the close musical and cultural ties between the two places.
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Lakou Mizik Explores Haiti's Centuries-Old Connections With New Orleans In 2nd Album

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Lakou Mizik Explores Haiti's Centuries-Old Connections With New Orleans In 2nd Album

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Music Reviews

Lakou Mizik Explores Haiti's Centuries-Old Connections With New Orleans In 2nd Album

Lakou Mizik Explores Haiti's Centuries-Old Connections With New Orleans In 2nd Album

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Haitian band Lakou Mizik is out with its second album — a dazzling set of collaborations with New Orleans musicians, celebrating the close musical and cultural ties between the two places.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Haiti was devastated by a 2010 earthquake. The group Lakou Mizik was formed by musicians young and old to help rebuild the country's psyche after the quake.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SA NA KENBE")

LAKOU MIZIK: (Singing in Haitian Creole).

SHAPIRO: On their second album, out tomorrow, the band explores Haiti's centuries-old connections with New Orleans. "HaitiaNola" was recorded in both locations with a host of guests and collaborators. Our reviewer Banning Eyre says it's a landmark in Caribbean music.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAKOU MIZIK SONG, "IKO KREYOL")

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: A classic Louisiana backbeat groove dressed up with Afro-Haitian bells sounds both familiar and foreign, but it's when the singing hits that we really feel the depth of this collaboration.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IKO KREYOL")

LAKOU MIZIK: (Singing in Haitian Creole).

EYRE: "Iko Kreyol" revamps a New Orleans classic with vocals in Haitian Creole. It's the only song here that was actually born in the Big Easy. Elsewhere, we get Afro-Haitian songs with infusions of Cajun music, zydeco, Dixieland jazz and more. Here's the inimitable Trombone Shorty mixing it up with celebratory horns used in Haitian rah-rah marching bands.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PISTACH GRIYE")

LAKOU MIZIK: (Singing in Haitian Creole).

EYRE: The New Orleans-Haiti connection goes back to the aftermath of Haiti's 1804 revolution. Once the rebels took over, thousands of French colonials, freed blacks and escaped slaves flooded into New Orleans, literally doubling the population and changing local culture and music forever.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAKOU MIZIK SONG, "GRANN")

EYRE: Many of Lakou Mizik's songs evoke Haiti's African-rooted religion Vodou. Take this song "Grann," in which the singer appeals for wisdom and strength from water spirits and from the spirit of his grandmother, who perished along with 900 others in a 1993 ferry accident.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GRANN")

LAKOU MIZIK: (Singing in Haitian Creole).

EYRE: Many New Orleans-based musicians contribute to these 14 tracks - too many to mention - but what comes through in the end is a powerful spirit of camaraderie and resistance. For all the suffering Haiti has known, these musicians hold fast to hope based in solidarity and in the transcendent power of music to connect people and imagine a better future.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANMAN LAVI")

LAKOU MIZIK: (Singing in Haitian Creole).

SHAPIRO: Banning Eyre is senior producer for Afropop Worldwide, and he reviewed "HaitiaNola" by Lakou Mizik.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANMAN LAVI")

LAKOU MIZIK: (Singing in Haitian Creole).

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