Mélissa Laveaux

canada

Haiti explored, by one woman and her guitar

“There’s not a lot of visibility for black women with guitars unless you’re playing blues or singing gospel. And if I wasn’t playing guitar, then people are like: ‘Cool, R&B!’” Mélissa Laveaux’s recent comments to The Guardian indicate how straight-jacketed and restrictive most notions of music are. And this is one woman who’s out to subvert them. Born and raised in Ottawa to Haitian parents, it’s been a belated investigation into the culture of her ancestors’ homeland that has provided Mélissa with renewed identity and reconfigured artistic purpose. Steered away from speaking Creole at school with other kids of Haitian extraction, she has since sunk deep into the country’s traditions – not just the musical ones. Her songs, embroidered by her spidery guitar, are by turn celebratory and mournful, dripping in atmosphere and often shot through with a ghostly otherness. Wonderful.

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