Visiting my Roots

In June of 2018 I had a opportunity to visit my homeland of Haiti. My younger brother was getting married. This has been in the plans for about a year and I was happy and honored to be going back home and serve as the best man in this celebration of Laurent and Tara. Young, in love, with a bright future ahead of them.

I arrived two days prior to the wedding on Saturday. I was happy to be home where so many of my family still live and many friends have made their permanent home after studying in the US and all over the world. I was also tired and jet lagged from having traveled to Indonesia the week before and Scandinavia and Europe three weeks prior. 

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But this was a day and weekend for my brother so I reluctantly agreed to go to a concert from a band I knew of, but had never seen in person: RAM. A part of the root ("racin") punk Afro-Caribbean renaissance that swept the Haitian music scene in the 1990s with most famously Boukman Eksperyans.

Arriving before the start of play at the glorious Hotel Oloffson which reminds of the past colonial time with its “gingerbread” wooden architecture, we got a large table adjacent to the band’s permanent location. More friends and family started to arrive while the place seemingly packed with locals. Youth looking for a Thursday night live music act, as well as tourists such as myself, ready to soak in the culture, rhythm, and dance.

I knew I would enjoy the experience, as this would be the second concert I would have a chance to photograph, and would make the best of capturing the colors, grit, and culture of my homeland on my arrival day, hours from having left Silicon Valley. I was in the middle of all that is opposite to my new life but all that is so true and faithful to my origin.

 Richard A. Morse (RAM) founder and leader of the band

Richard A. Morse (RAM) founder and leader of the band

The RAM band is hard to describe to those who have never listen to Afro-Caribbean music or Haitian root music. Like any music with African origins, it is heavy in drums and percussion but also plays a serious rock-n-roll inspired guitar along with unique trumpets and other native instruments.

 Lead singer Lunise Morse

Lead singer Lunise Morse

The star of the show is none other than lead singer Lunise who passionately sings and dance, sometimes as if in a trance. It’s easy to focus your entire attention on her voice and sensual moves and whether you understand what she’s signing about, be captivated with the passion she exults.

Naturally, I had seen many of Haiti’s live music acts in the past but after more than 20 years living in the United States, the massive injection of culture that RAM afforded on that Thursday night was good for my soul. And spending time with friends and family (Alan and Gaëlle) was a good start to a weekend of celebration.

You can listen and purchase RAM’s online or on iTunes or better attend a live concert like I did at the Hotel Oloffson most Thursday nights.

All photographs taken by me with my Leica M10 and Summilux 50 mm f1.4 pre-aspherical. View complete portfolio.