Bborn in New York to Haitian parents and now based in New Orleans, Leyla McCalla explored his ancestral roots on previous solo albums. Commissioned by Duke University in North Carolina, this fourth adventure takes him deeper into the history of the Caribbean republic and that of Radio Haiti, the station that for decades fought corruption. and the brutality of regimes that arrested and tortured journalists and ultimately murdered its founder. It was almost the only station that broadcast in local Creole rather than French. McCalla delivers the story – which has also become a play – with a mix of original and traditional songs, adding an odd radio clip for effect.
The pieces are mostly sung in Creole, although there are English pieces such as Caetano Veloso’s Brazilian exile song You Don’t Know Me. combine his cello and his banjo with sophisticated percussion, it evokes moods of abjection (Fort Dimanche concerns a notorious prison), of protest (“It’s us who bake the bread and burn ourselves in the oven”, complains Dodinin ) and nostalgia (Prière de Boukman) An ambitious and accomplished work.