Listen to “Kailwa Krazé,” by the Hatian musician, exclusively on PAM.
Gaston “Bonga” Jean-Baptiste was born in Croix-des Missions, La Plaine, Haiti, into a family with a long tradition of Vodou. As such, he was exposed to the ceremonies held in the family peristyle from an early age, quickly becoming interested in music and travelling to all regions of the island as a young percussionist in order to learn about local rituals and rhythms. He was one of the founding members of Boukman Eksperyans and then Foula, two leading bands of the “rasin” music movement, advocating a return to the roots of Haitian, African and Vodou culture in popular music. Bonga moved to New York at the end of the 90s and collaborated on live and recorded projects with Wyclef Jean, Grace Jones, Jean-Paul Bourelly and Urban Tap among others.
Now a Houngan (a vodou priest) and resident of New Jersey, he offers a ceremony with Boula, codified in song format that condenses the structured and improvised aspects of an authentic ritual. We hear the interweaving of traditional and personal stories of joy and sorrow that prepare the invocation. Playing all instruments on the record, recorded in Puerto Rico a few months before the confinement, he also painted the album’s illustrations. Bonga’s ambition with Boula is that this Vodou story, and these rhythms, will inspire everyone, whatever their culture, and lead them to healing, the goal of all “old world” rituals. Discover “Kailwa Krazé” below.
Boula by Bonga Jean-Baptiste, out on October 8 via Buda Musique.