Miami's Haitian Compas Festival 2013: A Four-Part Guide, From DJ Griot to Djakout
Since 1955, Haiti has offered the world a uniquely danceable and infectiously sexy music known as compas, konpa, and kompa. The Kreyol language has only been standardized in written form since 1979, so there are several ways to spell everything.
But what has hindered Kreyol's literal documentation has strengthened its oral tradition and imbued its speech patterns with a rhythmic musicality all their own. The Haitian cultural traditions of playful double entendres, shifting shades of meaning, and colorful aphorisms charge its music with a literary quality that highlight its rhythmic fervor.
Compa's origins date back to the 1800s, when Afro-Caribbean and European musical elements came together in popular dance. The guitar-driven folk sound, infused with a méringue (Haitian merengue) beat, riding cymbals, keyboard runs, and festival horns define the modern sound that emerged in the mid 1950s.
Today, the genre is alive and well, with heavy fanbases in New York, Paris, Berlin, and Miami. Now in its 15th year, the Haitian Compas Festival, celebrating Haitian Flag Day, will attract up to 15,000 visitors to downtown Miami. And at least half of them will be tourists.
We here at Crossfade caught up with longtime organizer Mr. Rodney Noel of Noel & Cecibon Productions for a guide to Haitian Compas week in Miami.