Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms And The Music Of New Orleans: Episode 2 : World Cafe : World Cafe Words and Music from WXPN What we often call French is actually Haitian. We see this imprint on New Orleans in countless ways — in its food, architecture, art, but most notably, in the music.
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Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms & the Music of New Orleans: Episode 2

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Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms And The Music Of New Orleans: Episode 2

Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms And The Music Of New Orleans: Episode 2

Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms & the Music of New Orleans: Episode 2

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Circa 1795: Lithograph of Haitian general Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture, whose heroic stand against French rule thwarted Napoleon's ambition for a North American empire. MPI/Getty Images hide caption

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Circa 1795: Lithograph of Haitian general Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture, whose heroic stand against French rule thwarted Napoleon's ambition for a North American empire.

MPI/Getty Images

During the lengthy uprising in Saint-Domingue, people with wealth — both whites and free people of color — fled the island. Ten thousand of those people eventually migrated to New Orleans, doubling the city's population. These immigrants brought with them their transportable wealth: enslaved Africans.

Together, these people fortified New Orleans' African-ness as well as its "Frenchness," slowing its Americanization and Anglicization for decades. The vast majority of what we regard in New Orleans as "French" is actually Haitian. We see this imprint on New Orleans in countless ways — in its food, architecture, art, celebrations, and tradition of seeking civil rights, but most notably, in the music.

Explore xpnkanaval.org for even more on the documentary.


Kanaval has been supported by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support from the Wyncote Foundation.