The Art of Music: Celebrating Haitian Heritage

Haitian music and dancing is a beautiful and creative form of celebration. One of the most popular types of music in Haiti is compas or “konpa”. Let’s take a deep dive into the history of compas. 

In 1957, compas music began to win a name for itself via the popular tours and performances of Nemours Jean Baptiste and Webert Sicot. Jean Baptiste, a saxophonist, author, and musical innovator, is often attributed as the genre’s grandfather.

During the 1950s, when traditional “konpa” was most prominent, audiences would often dance in a kare (Creole for square). This is a paired line dance that is reminiscent of traditional merengue ballroom style. In Caribbean nations with more of a Latin and Spanish influence than Haiti, styles reminiscent of tango (with passionate partner interactions) are more common. Learn More.

Manno Charlemagne: The Bob Marley Of Haiti

“His rich baritone voice, trenchant lyrics, and graceful melodies inspired the generation of Haitians which rose up against the three-decade Duvalier dictatorship in 1986. Sometimes called the Haitian Bob Marley or Bob Dylan, Manno’s huge popularity won him Port-au-Prince’s mayor’s office in 1995, but his lyrical idealism soon dashed against the rocks of Haiti’s difficult political realities, and he was all but chased from that office. In recent years, he had withdrawn from Haiti’s political scene, except for some ill-fated sorties which he regretted.” Read More HERE. Some will argue that he has one of the best Haitian songs of all times. It talks of a people forced to live in exile and longing to go back home. Listen to his music HERE

Today, Haiti celebrates many religious holidays that are associated with music. Among these religious holidays is a week-long festival beginning Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter, called Rara. The music of Rara is very lively, and traditionally, musicians will play maracas, bells, and trumpets made of bamboo or metal pipes, called vaksen. Learn More.

The Haitian Carnival is in honor and celebration of various religious traditions. The Haitian Carnival is a great opportunity for new and upcoming artists in Haiti to showcase their talents in front of large crowds. Learn More.

Here at Haitian Christian Outreach we use music to share the gospel and as a form of worship to the Lord. Check out our Emmanuel Christian Church choir: 


We thank you for journeying with us during the celebration of Haitian Heritage Month! We hope that throughout this month you have enjoyed learning more about Haiti and Haitian heritage and hoping that along the way you learned something new!