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9296: Haitian cultural awareness being raised (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Haitian cultural awareness being raised
By Kenia Bravo
Miami News Service

October 21, 2001

Anna Laudun Beauboeuf, weary of negative stereotypes seemingly wedged in the 
community mindset about Haitians, aims to recast those images -- one concert 
at a time.

The news from Haiti is about AIDS, poverty and political hardships, she 
said, and rarely anything else. Beauboeuf said she wants to dismantle the 
discrimination she says Haitian-Americans continue to endure by showing the 
community another side of Haiti.

"I think that people's impression of Haiti is limited," said Beauboeuf, 35. 
"Haitians are doing a good job here. They are hard workers. And they need 
more support."

The support Beauboeuf said she can lend is through music. And she is leaning 
on her own family in Haiti to help her. Beauboeuf, co-owner of a North Miami 
Beach import-export company specializing in musical instruments and building 
materials, is organizing two classical piano recitals to be performed by her 
aunt, Micheline Laudun Denis.

"Musicians who are already famous in Haiti can act as ambassadors to promote 
Haitian cultural awareness," said Beauboeuf. "I want to show the public that 
we in Haiti have a very rich culture."

Denis has been famous in Haiti since the age of 12, when she won a radio 
talent competition. She studied in New York and Paris and has played many 
benefits and recitals around the world, including a concert in Washington 
for the Organization of American States in the 1980s.

She had never played in Miami but said she is eager to take up her niece's 

"I didn't think about it, but when my niece brought it to me, I said, yes, 
tell me when and what kind of audience we are going to have," said Denis, 
72, who was in Miami recently to record her first CD.

The concerts, both benefits, will be held Nov. 30 at the Lincoln Theater on 
Miami Beach and on Dec. 8 at the Gusman Concert Hall at the University of 
Miami. The Lincoln Theater recital will benefit Harambee Inc., a nonprofit 
organization that sponsors cultural arts programs and education for mostly 
inner-city children. Proceeds from the Gusman concert will help the Haitian 
Student Organization at UM, Beauboeuf said.

The nonprofit group ACTION, which supports Haitian culture in Broward 
County, also is sponsoring Denis at a special performance at 7 p.m. on Dec. 
7 in the auditorium of Broward's Main Library, Beauboeuf said.

During her South Florida visit, Denis attended a Haitian Student 
Organization meeting on campus and later met with about 30 Harambee children 
at an after-school program at Frederick Douglass Elementary. She played 
Claudette, a tune she composed when she was 13, on the piano for them. Then 
she gave them some instruction on sound and rhythm, with the children 
clapping their hands, snapping their fingers and tapping their feet as Denis 

"The goal of this is to empower kids," said Petagay Letren, founder and 
president of Harambee Inc., who, along with the children, welcomed Denis' 

Denis, who has taught music for 50 years, recently completed a children's 
instruction book, The Musical Garden, which demonstrates a teaching method 
using stories, signs and cartoons instead of musical notes. Children 
associate learning music with fun and playing games, she said.

"I love children," Denis said. "I take care of them. I always observe every 
answer, every reaction. That makes me stay young."

Beauboeuf and her siblings are examples of how much Denis loves and works 
with children. Beauboeuf said Denis and her husband Raoul, who already had 
four children, raised her and her sister after their parents divorced. Denis 
is her mother's sister.

"Life in Haiti was a colorful musical environment," Beauboeuf said. "We 
didn't watch television, we played music."

Her grandparents' home in Petionville, 15 minutes from Port-au-Prince, was a 
place of laughter and music, with all four of the children each playing a 
different musical instrument, under Denis' instruction. Beauboeuf learned to 
play the piano, the flute and the violin.

Now Beauboeuf and her husband, Seymour, plan to give their two children, 
Sebastian, 4, and Stephane, 5, an appreciation for music. But her overriding 
goal is to give South Florida an appreciation for Haitians.

"I need to show the American community the diversity that we have in our 
culture and the diversity of the artists we have in our country," Beauboeuf 
said. "The concerts also will help Haitian immigrants who have not been back 
to Haiti relive a part of a cultural period that they have been away from 
for years."

"When someone hears that Micheline Denis is going to play here, they say, 
`Wow. I didn't know that she is still playing. I remember how great she 

Beauboeuf said she plans to make the recitals an annual event that will 
promote Haitian awareness, not just in South Florida but in the rest of the 

"I have a lot of ambition for the Haitian people," she said. "Big ambition."

For further concert information or tickets, call Beauboeuf at 305-493-0701.
Copyright  2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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