Stories from the 78

← Back to Stories

Meet Haiti's prime musical minister ambassador, Wesli

7/9/2024

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with an exceptional human being for this story. I think it’s necessary to start from the beginning.

Born Wesley Louissaint in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wesli has blossomed into a celebrated songwriter, guitarist, and producer. Uniting a diverse array of Montreal talent, his music seamlessly blends Haitian vodou and rara with Twoubadou roots, Afrobeat, and reggae. His albums feature collaborations with renowned artists such as Tiken Jah Fakoly, AfrotroniX, Mes Aïeux, Paul Cargnello, and Radio Radio.

Crowned the Revelation Radio-Canada for 2009–2010, Wesli’s accolades include the Babel Med Music Prize (2010), SOCAN’s Hagood Hardy (Composing) Award (2016), an award from the Académie Charles CROS (2019) for Diaspora representation, a JUNO for World Music (2019), a Félix for Album of the Year in World Music (2019), and a CFMA for World Solo Artist of the Year (2020). He has toured extensively across North America, Haiti, Colombia, Brazil, and Europe, and has performed at prestigious events such as WOMEX, Mundial Montréal, and Cape Verde’s Atlantic Music Expo.

Wesli’s boundless creativity led to the release of two albums in 2015: the star-studded “Immigrand” and the more traditional “Ayiti Étoile Nouvelle.” “Rapadou Kréyol” (2018) was followed by his seventh album, “Tradisyon,” released internationally on October 21, 2022, in partnership with the American label Cumbancha. Fans can look forward to “Tradisyon Volume 2,” set to be released in 2024. Audiences can expect uplifting performances featuring roots music, Voodoo music, dance with a traditional dancer, and folk troubadour music in the Fon and Ewe Creole Yoruba languages brought from Africa by slaves.

Wesli’s performances feature songs from his most recent albums, “Tradisyon” and “Rapadou Kreyol,” blending traditional Haitian music with hip-hop, reggae, and African soukous.

“Haitian people are champions of resilience,” says Wesli. “We practice it in everything we do and in our music, even when addressing sad subjects. We sing with happiness because that’s the only way we can get through difficult situations.”

The stark contrast between Haiti’s present struggles and the joy in Wesli’s music is not lost on him. “Despite our current challenges and those we’ve faced since Independence, we have never given up on freedom—politically, economically, or socially. We seek the world’s support through your good vibes, and we celebrate our culture and traditions because they represent us well. We want to share this with the world to let everyone know that the first Black Republic is still alive and won’t die. We represent the freedom of all Africans around the world.”

Upcoming Performances:

Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC)

Thursday, July 18, 9:00-9:45 pm: DJ set @ Konpa Sware (Room 43)

Friday, July 19, 7:30-8:45 pm: Performance

1039-1043 E. 43 St., Chicago

$10.00

Levitt VIBE Music Series presents: Wesli

Saturday, July 20, 2:00-4:00 pm

Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago

Free

For more Stories From The 78, follow @tombarnas78 on Instagram and @storiesfromthe78 on TikTok.