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6577: Tjovi Ginen's Haitian roots are showing (fwd)
From: Charles Arthur <email@example.com>
Tjovi Ginen's Haitian roots are showing
by Bob Young - BostonHerald.com
Friday, January 5, 2001
In mizik rasin - Haitian roots music - lyrics play as prominent a role as
the melodies or infectious rhythms.
The members of Tjovi Ginen, who perform at the House of Blues on Sunday,
have been driving home that point ever since they got together in 1993.
``The spoken word is the essence,'' said vocalist Daniel Laurent.
For Laurent, who writes many of the group's lyrics, those words are informed
by his own experiences as a native Haitian who has spent more than two
decades living in America.
So inspiration comes from both the police beating of Abner Louima in New
York and Jean-Bertrand Aristide's return to power in Haiti.
It's a dual perspective that Laurent believes ``is very crucial for the
voice and the music. It's also the essence of the music, which is to express
what's happening in the community, which to some degree is borderless.''
The 34-year-old Laurent, who now teaches in a middle school in the Bronx,
moved to the Boston area from Haiti with his family when he was 11. He
attended Cambridge public schools, the University of Massachusetts at Boston
and, for graduate school, Harvard University.
It was while he was in this area that he became immersed in the Haitian
music scene, helping form Batwel Rada, one of the city's busiest roots bands
during the '80s.
``I grew up writing poetry,'' Laurent said, ``even though I also grew up
doing Haitian roots music. That was my voice.''
The 11-member Tjovi Ginen - which roughly means children or spirit of Africa
- has a new disc out this spring as a follow-up to its most recent CD,
``Tjovi Ginen, Tjovi Ginen'' (SWS Records). The band also has a politically
tinged single due out later in January, ``01, 01,'' and a song about to be
entered into Haiti's upcoming carnival.
``We work on the music of the street,'' Laurent said, who added that he
often employs ironies in his lyrics. ``Usually they're not in melodic form.
It's more spoken word as part of the conversation between people.
``When things are happening in high places, in governments for example, you
have the best interpretation of events in the street. People hear things and
go, `Oh, this is so and so doing so and so.' Short, to the point,
nondiplomatic, that's it.
``The words are very important.''
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