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21 Days of Musica Latina: Haiti

Leyla McCalla
Laura Partain
Courtesy of the artist
Leyla McCalla

Editor's Note: To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month this year, World Cafe is going on a musical tour of Latin America. Every weekday from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we'll spotlight the music of a different Latin American country with a curated playlist of essential tracks, fresh voices and wild cards.

The next stop on our 21 Days of Musica Latina journey may seem like a bit of a head-scratcher to some. Haiti is often excluded from conversations about Latinidad, but as we celebrate the breadth of musical diversity across Latin America, Haiti needs to be part of that conversation.

This mix includes some powerhouse acts from the Haitian diaspora. There's singer-songwriter Mélissa Laveaux, who wields an impressive fingerpicking technique to fuse Caribbean rhythms with indie folk sensibilities. There's also the incredible group Lakou Mizik, which is based in Port-au-Prince; the band formed after the earthquake in 2010 with a mission of preserving and uplifting Haitian roots music.

Leyla McCalla's masterful 2022 album, Breaking The Thermometer, was born out of her theater piece called Break the Thermometer to Hide the Fever. Inspired by audio recordings from the Radio Haiti Archive at Duke University, McCalla's piece and album weave together her own experience and the story of Haiti's relationship with the U.S.

There's also a selection of incredible electronic music acts, including Kaytranada and Täbï Yösha. (Check out Yösha's new EP, called True Colors.)

Enjoy, and make sure you come back tomorrow to find out where World Cafe's headed next.

Copyright 2023 XPN

Miguel Perez
Miguel Perez is a radio producer for NPR's World Cafe, based out of WXPN in Philadelphia. Before that, he covered arts, music and culture for KERA in Dallas. He reported on everything from the rise of NFTs in the music industry to the enduring significance of gay and lesbian bars to the LGBTQ community in North Texas.
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