Vodou singer Erol Josué visits the Haiti Lab

Date: Thursday, February 3, 2011 - 11:00am - 11:15am
Location: FHI Garage - C105, Bay 4, Smith Warehouse
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* Updated 2/8: video now with subtitles in English *

Renowned Haitian musician Erol Josué was born into the Vodou tradition and initiated at 17 years of age as a Houngan (Vodou priest). Part of a larger project by Haiti Lab Co-Director Laurent Dubois and Erol Josué to create an online audio-visual archive of Vodou song, this performance was recorded during Josué's recent visit to the FHI. Thanks to Lab intern Zack Green of Green Media for the recording, Lab faculty and linguist Jacques Pierre for the transcription of the creole lyrics, and Laurent and Erol for the English translation. 

From Laurent Dubois: "This first song tells a powerful story, one frequently evoked in Vodou song: that of how, in the midst of exile from Africa, people turned to religion to survive and resist. As Erol explained, it reminds people of historical experiences – the slave trade, the “testing” undergone through slavery, and the revolt of Makandal, who it is believed escaped at the moment of his execution by turning to smoke. But it also evokes the spiritual resources people drew on to survive, which allowed them come from under the water and soar into the sky. It evokes the power they singer has to resist oppression, and to change the world around them. As such, like many other songs, it draws on long historical experience to provide solace and inspire action in the present."

Lyrics in Haitian Creole:

   Depi m soti nan ginen, moun y ape sonde mwen
   Se mwen-menm  (w osin o) rasin o
   Depi m soti nan ginen, moun y ape sonde mwen
   O se mwen-menm, o gwo wòch o!
   M soti an ba dlo, mwen vole “dans les airs” dan lèzè (an lè)
   Kou yo kwè yo pran mwen, m tounen lafimen o
   Jou yo konnen sa m sèvi, latè va tranble
   Jou yo konnen non vanyan mwen, loray va gwonde
   O se mwen-menm, o rasin o!
   Depi m soti nan ginen, moun y ape sonde mwen
   O se mwen-menm, O rasin o !
   M soti an ba dlo, mwen vole “dans les airs” dan lèzè (an lè)
   Kou yo kwè yo pran mwen, m tounen lafimen o
   Jou yo konnen non vanyan m, latè va tranble, ey
   Jou yo konnen sa m sèvi, loray va gwonde
   Se mwen-menm, O rasin o!
   M di se mwen-menm, o gwo wòch o.

Here's a rough English translation:

   Since I left Africa, people have been testing me
   I am the root

   Since I left Africa, people have been testing me
   I am a great rock
   I came from under the water, I fly up into the sky
   When they thought they captured me, I turned to smoke
   When they find out who I serve, the earth will tremble
   When they learn my real name, the storm will thunder
   I am the root
   Since I left Africa, people have been testing me
   I am the root
   Since I left Africa, people have been testing me
   I am a great rock
   I came from under the water, I fly up into the sky
   When they thought they captured me, I turned to smoke
   When they find out who I serve, the earth will tremble
   When they learn my real name, the storm will thunder
   I am the root
   I am a great rock

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