The day after Haiti was shaken by the devastating 7.0 earthquake that threw the poverty stricken nation into a hellish nightmare, Dominican-American DJ David Medina was feeling more distressed than most New Yorkers. “My family is in the Dominican Republic and they felt the quake and the aftershocks,” he says. “Dominicans are neighbors to Haitians. They share the same island and a similar history of struggle. So I feel the Haitians are my people too.”
Rather than falling into despair, Medina got on the phone and organized a fundraiser with his friends, events producer and promoter Mehmet Dede and DJ and producer Neva Wartell. Wartell is an ethnomusicologist who co-produces a weekly program on Radio Soleil d’Haiti, a radio station in Brooklyn’s Haitian neighborhood. Dede has pulled together dozens of world music concerts in New York over the years. Within days, the three had booked a Haiti benefit show into Drom, the hip world beat club on the Lower East Side.
On Sunday night, January 24th, a syncopated symphony of sounds—from Haitian rara and compas, to Cuban charanga and son, Dominican merengue, African salsa, traditional Haitian rhythms and world beats—will get the crowd moving and also raise money to help the beleaguered citizens of Haiti. One hundred percent of the door proceeds will go to Partners in Health, the 501(c)(3) non-profit that was co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer and has been working in Haiti for more than 20 years.
The group headlining the benefit is Charanga Soleil, which specializes in bringing together three of the world’s great dance genres: Cuban salsa, Congolese rumba-soukous and Haitian compas. Members of the group play flute, violin, piano, bass, conga, tres, piano and the West African kora.
Of course, it’s next to impossible to have Afro-Caribbean music without dancing—both on and off the stage. On Sunday night, expert Haitian banda dancer Nadia Dieudonné will perform traditional Vodoun dances, partnered by master drummer Markus Schwartz. And that’s just a taste of what’s to come. All in all, the Sunday night line-up at Drom includes more than two dozen artists, all singing, dancing and playing their hearts out for the survivors of the quake.
“Music has the power to unify and nowhere is this more relevant than in the situation with Haiti right now,” says Dede. “My hope is that we all see this need, get together and—more importantly—stay together in these challenging times. Our support to Haiti needs to continue beyond this week.”
The World Stands with Haiti: A benefit show for the People of Haiti
Sunday, January 24, 6:00 pm to midnight
85 Avenue A (btw 5th & 6th Streets)
New York, NY 10009
Charanga Soleil Live with “Papo” Ortega – Pepito Gomez – Luisito Ayala – Eddy Zervigon – Ray Martinez – Richard Agustin – Cedric Brooks & many more surprise artists Live Haitian Drum & Dance by Markus Schwartz & Nadia Dieudonne Dance Performances by Areytos Performance Works, Danielle Lima, Dalia Carella, Rara Dancers DJs Neva, Al Angeloro, Andrea & David Medina
Update 1-27-10: The World Stands with Haiti raised over $2,500 with their benefit on Sunday at Drom. The money was donated to Partners in Care.
For related stories click on the links below:
1. Caribbean Cultural Center benefit for Haiti will shake the house
2. In New York, musicians jam for Haiti
3. Four-night benefit brings everyone together from Patti Smith to Joshua Bell
4. Clay William’s photos of the Haiti benefit at Le Poisson Rouge