“Thank you ladies and gentlemen for coming as it is the last show that I, Farah Juste, will bring to you this year” so were the words of a legend, as she dismisses the audience at the end of her show.
Sitting in front and center, I wanted to get the full experience from the outside looking in before making my way backstage. I had a smile on my face reminiscing on the Jazz and Folklore classes that my parents embarked me on as a child. I relived those Sunday afternoons where the family would gather around the dinner table while being serenaded by the melodious voice of Beethova Obas… aaah good times!!
It just dawn to me that if it weren’t for an invitation to Farah Juste’s press conference, I would have never known the weight of this concert given every first of the year…true art, true culture, it was Haiti at its best.
From the colorful performances by Folkloric dancers to the singing of Farah Juste herself I stayed in awe from beginning to end. The theme was clearly HOPE, after what we have endured in 2010 as a people, we remain unshaken.
The Concert began by saluting our flag with the both the Haitian and American hymns sung beautifully by two distinctive singers as the last one happened to be a child. Guided by the voices of Marjory Sheba and Jean Guardy Bien-Aime, followed was a cultural dance represented by the group “Laisser Faire” …magnificent professionals I would say! Continued was a poem entitled “Bravo pou kompatriot nou yo” performed by Fritznel Pierre left us pondering how much Haiti needed us at this very moment…Then moguls such as Beethova and Emmanuel Obas, Emeline Michel, Jowee Omicil were also part of the lineup. Needless to describe how excellently they expressed themselves for they have been in this industry for more than 20 years and if I am able to see them today you can imagine that their status has reached the super stardom level, nevertheless they wowed us with not only their individual pieces but also coupling their voices to create incredible harmony. Our distinctive folklore depicts us immediately out of the crowd when we dance, well represented by a group of young ladies colorfully dressed, they made sure to leave their heart on the stage for the public to see…Bravo!
But the icing on the cake was Farah’s dress, designed by Violette Pericles, owner of Verona art and design school in Haiti and Les Pericles Liberal Arts and Crafts right here in North Miami Beach, led the crowd to stand on its feet as she made her entrance on the stage. The dress told the story of a Haiti scorned, from earthquakes, cholera disease, rape in the midst of tents… to the suffering souls left to fend for themselves. It also represented this HOPE we so hold on to, a faint light soon to become bright at the end for this long travelled tunnel.
She then closed the show by welcoming the whole cast, poets, dancers, singers and hosts all came to embrace what would be the last Farah Juste freedom concert. Is this really the end? Will she not pass the baton to our younger generation? As I discovered, as our reality is changing so is our culture, we have so much to offer, so much unrevealed. Will the next generation step up and continue the legacy that Farah has started? My soul smiles as I hold on to the thought of attending next year’s performance, for I want to be front and center…again.. telling the story of a brave people still showcasing its beauty to the rest of the world.
Photography provided by Mr. Gary Boudeau and Bradley Alcime from Castle in the Sky Films