SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Paul Beaubrun's new album "Ayibobo" - that's Creole for blessings - is a celebration of Haitian culture. It's also become an inspiration for activists, including a song on the album, "Rise Up."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RISE UP")
PAUL BEAUBRUN: (Singing) Rise up, music (ph). Rise up with me.
SIMON: Paul Beaubrun joins us now from our studios in New York. Thanks so much for being with us.
BEAUBRUN: Thank you for having me.
SIMON: Help us understand how this word, ayibobo, is used.
BEAUBRUN: Yes. Ayibobo means blessings or welcome. It's a very warm word to use when you see someone, and you want to give them some blessings. Also, you can say ayibobo if they say something wise. Also, something that you like, you can say ayibobo for that, you know? And it's our word. And it means a lot to us. It's like, you know, it's life.
SIMON: Let's hear your song, "Ayibobo."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AYIBOBO")
BEAUBRUN: (Singing) I heard my momma screaming, eyes got misty waiting, saying we've been hiding (ph).
This song, it's a personal song. It's, like, my mom talking to me. And, you know, I left Haiti when I was 17 because of political problems in Haiti. The government sent people with guns in front of our house. And that's how I left and came to New York. I live at my aunt's house. And then that's where I wrote that song, "Ayibobo," a long time ago.
(Singing) Ayibobo, ayibobo, ayibobo, ayibobo, ayibobo, ayibobo, ayibobo, ayibobo, ayibobo.
So ayibobo - it's like a blessing of - I'm still alive. My family, we are here, and our message is still strong. And everything that my mom and my dad taught me, I'm still here standing. That's what it means.
SIMON: Let me ask you about another song. This one's called "Remember."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REMEMBER")
BEAUBRUN: (Singing) Remember, one day, we're going to see the light. Remember, one day, we're going to make it right. Remember, one day, we're going to unite.
This song gets around the same time when I wrote "Ayibobo." And you can hear the influence, you know, like, you can little R&B and soul. To me, the most important thing about this song, it's the evolution of the music. For me, coming from Haiti, and to be able to play, you know, R&B, soul, to me, I can easily see where all these type of music comes from. It's the same type of music when I hear them.
(SOUNDBITE OF PAUL BEAUBRUN SONG, "REMEMBER")
SIMON: Do you feel Haitians are kind of at the center of a lot of debate on immigration in this country right now?
BEAUBRUN: Yes, we are. And it's been for years. This year, also, it's been everywhere. And I had a chance to speak about it a little bit and sing for my people in Times Square when we did it - I don't remember - a few months back. And it was about that. And it was about all the things that, you know, the president said about the countries - you know, Haiti and Africa and Latin America. And I had a chance, you know, to talk and speak about that, yeah.
SIMON: What do you say? And what does your music say?
BEAUBRUN: The music, when I sang that day, was about no matter what anyone, you know, says, we know who we are. We know where we come from. We know the aid - we know everything that we brought to America, everything that we did to the world. We changed the world when we did our revolution, first to abolish slavery. And that's what I was saying.
I was saying, no matter what, it doesn't matter because we know who we are. We might be struggling right now, but our spirit is always going to be on fire. We're always going to be who we are no matter what.
SIMON: Do you get back to Haiti?
BEAUBRUN: Yes, I go often. I'm going the end of this month to present the album and bring it to some press in Haiti and talk to people and meet - you know, I just love to go there and see my family, my friends and all the people there.
SIMON: Yeah. It'll give you a special satisfaction to be there with this album, I'd imagine.
BEAUBRUN: Yes. Yes, it represents, you know, not only a personal story of mine, but it represents a lot of people going through the same thing that I'm going through as Haitian and as everyone, also - anyone who's listening also right now.
SIMON: I gather you've got your guitar in the studio with you.
BEAUBRUN: Oh, yeah.
SIMON: Well, thanks for bringing in your friend. Can we hear "Rise Up"?
BEAUBRUN: Yes. Let me (guitar strumming) - this is "Rise Up." (Playing guitar) To all the people listening right now, this song is for you.
SIMON: Paul Beaubrun's new album, "Ayibobo."