By Moses St. Louis
One does not need to look any further to weigh the impact of our female artists in the Haitian Music Industry (HMI). Lately, they all have been indistinctively featured in all recent Compas’ albums released. That means that their male counterparts finally recognize their capacity and their ability to be featured in their music. It was not too long ago; the HMI artists would instead go to the Antilles to find female artists to be featured on their album. Both Carimi and Alan Cave featured Teeyah; TVice went with Joceline Labelle, and Arly Lariviere and his band Nulook called on Tanya St Val.
Contrary to the norm, Haitian female artists are impacting the music industry today. Their evolving talent is being noticed when renowned artists like Gazzman Couleur have called on not so famous but talented Hilary to be featured on his album intituled “Loreya ." Mete’m online" is a popular duet involving the two singers. Both Enposib and TVice featured the talented Phylissia Ross in their hit singles; respectively “overdose” and “Kite m montre w."
Rutshelle Guillaume is seen with Kreyol la in “Mwen Poko jwenn li”; the group, Kaï featured the sensational revelation Bedjine in their hit single “koupab," while the Haitian American Jessie Woe sings alongside MacD in “Pa ka separe”, later to be replaced by Vanessa Desiré. The trend of female artists being featured on newly released albums will continue. It is anticipated the trend one of those afore-mentioned female artists will also be featured on upcoming albums of some of our top HMI bands.
In the past, most entertaining media outlets did not care much about female artists; today, however, they are considered hot topics that are dominating the media waves. It used to be a common belief that the public was not engaging with the female artists was partly due to their not writing nor talking about them. Another way to look at the issue is centered around the sexist attitude that the industry portrays. It seems almost as if the industry must revolve and be built around male artists. They are considered the heart and center of the industry and are always treated as first-class citizens at the expanse of their female counterparts. As an exception to those standard practices, I can proudly say that we at HaitianBeatz have always believed that the industry must include women in all musical conversations. This is why, we have made it our endeavor to make female artists a big part of our business model. We have given interviews to more female artists than most media outlets combined. We have featured at our events more female artists than any promoter in the HMI. We have always believed that those women were equally talented as men, and therefore, deserved a fair share of our musical attention.
Today, this social media era contributes significantly to having given those female artists' a voice. It allows them to create their platforms, making it impossible for them not to be noticed. They use those outlets to feature their personal life stories, business ventures, tracks, and albums released prompting the media to pay close attention to them.
Although those women are thriving to make their presence known and pinpoint their marks in the industry, some media outlets seem to be fixating on portraying their stories as those only related to their fashion choices, who they're feuding with, including reports depicting their romantic adventures. The media is believed to be portraying a distorted view of the successful female artists that seem to have little to do with their musical journey. I think that this long media practice profoundly affects women in the music profession since it holds up a distorted standard of success.
Another lingering challenge I see remaining is being acknowledged as business savvy. I find it insulting the notion that our female artists can only be considered accessories. It is my responsibility to emphasize that our female artists are talented and brilliant beings that grasp all business notions as much as their male counterparts. Although invested in different business ventures, the idea that women do not understand how it works is a blatant way of diminishing their value and extenuating their full potential and professional worth. To assume that a woman may be involved in business but does not understand its Implications is ludicrous and sexist…simply discriminatory towards women.
Even though the HMI is still grappling with the lingering effects of this sexism, I think one of the most significant issues that our female artists face and are still somehow facing is the perception of whether a woman can head up a musical team involving high-profile shows? The questions remain, can a woman be a bandleader: “Is she strong enough to lead an all-male or aa-female band? I think both Rutshelle and Phyllisia Ross and now Bedjine have started to answer those pertinent questions. Rutshelle cemented herself as an integral part of the HMI by creating her own musical band. Phyllisia Ross remains the most versatile vocalist and savviest businesswoman in the industry. She came in as a one-person show; a renowned pianist, she is the Maestro of her band, she manages both her musical and business careers keeping up with a tight and busy schedule. The year 2021 revealed Bedjine as the sensation and the most talked-about artist taking the HMI by storm. Her unique and powerful voice earned her the "female artist of the year" title from many entertainment outlets. Finally, Darline Desca deserves to be in the conversation. She is by far one of "the hardest working female artist" in the HMI. For the past couple of years, she has re-invented herself becoming a sensational and sexy musical icon.
Emeline Michel have spent many years as the disrupter of this sexist industry. The HMI has felt the impact of many other female artists this past couple of years. We cannot finish this article without recognizing Misty Jean’s efforts to make a comeback creating more visibility for herself. Another young and talented artist worth mentioning is Fatima AthIery. She has been featured with different artists including Kenny Haiti, Kreyol La, to name a few…Tadia Toussaint, Danola Anie Alerte, Mellysings, Martine Alexandre...Mickael (Marabou) who has yet to perform…The list is very long as to the impact those female artists have made in the past couple of years. The bands not only feature female artists on their studio albums, but they also involve them in their live performances. Musical bands like Klass and Nulook re-introduced us to women as background vocalists in their live performances, starting a trend that brought Djakout # 1, Zenglen to bring back a woman on their stage. Bands performing with females as background vocalists used to be the norm in the '90s, with Zin, Phantoms, Lakol, Papash, System Band and many other bands having women as background vocalists; however, it had faded away.
As much as I wish I could ignore the whole gender gap in the HMI, statistics prove time after time that the HMI is still very much a male dominating business, both on and off stage. Most of our female artists' performances are featured on male-dominated line-ups. Rarely do you see an all-female line-up? No matter how much we want that to change, it may never happen unless those female artists stand up together in a unanimous front to protest what has always been a discriminatory attitude towards their efforts. Though, by way of individual perseverance, togetherness, and grassroots efforts, significant changes can occur.
I report, you decide.