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Entertainment, Haitians In America, Only In The Haitian Times

Haitians In America: Singer-Songwriter embraces Haitian Heritage through music

By Bianca Silva

Boston-based singer-songwriter Rebecca Zama has been performing since the age of three in venues across Massachusetts and the East Coast. Last year, she got the opportunity to perform the National Anthem in front of 37,000 people at Fenway Park and is also a published poet. Her poem, Optimum Me, was inspired by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Zama speaks to the Haitian Times on embracing her heritage through her music and what is like working in the music industry.What inspired you to pursue music for a living?

What inspired you to pursue music for a living?

I have had a passion for singing my entire life, even before I was able to talk, I was singing. At the age of five, I knew that I wanted to pursue music as a career and I started performing publicly, learning to play piano, and writing my own music.

Who do you consider to be some of your biggest musical influences?

Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, Brandy, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Carole Demesmin, and Emeline Michel are some of my musical influences. The list could go on forever. There are so many artists that I have listened to that have helped to shape me into the artist I am today.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in working in the music industry?

I think that there are many challenges in working in the music industry, from finding your sound to figuring out how to balance creative freedom with the business side of being an artist. It’s not easy to work in the music industry, especially as an independent artist, you have to have immense belief in yourself and in your craft, create your own opportunities, juggle many hats at once, and find the best ways to share your vision with others. When you’re up and coming, doors will close, you’ll hear many more no’s then yes’, but ultimately you have to accept that that is part of the process. I like to say that when one door closes, build your own castle with as many doors that you can open and close as you please.   

Being young, throughout my career I have had to show that my age doesn’t define my talent, professionalism, or how serious of an artist that I am. I learned to not take things personally and show people what I can do through my actions and not my words. I think the best takeaway from working in the music industry is that you have to keep going and keep believing in your talent and that will bring you to your goals. Learn from your failures, celebrate your successes and use both as motivation to improve and to keep pushing.

Your Haitian heritage shines through in your music as well as your humanitarian work. How do you make sure your heritage is well-represented?

I want my music to represent who I am, a proud Haitian-American, which is why I incorporate Haitian Creole into some of my songs, and I feature Caribbean sounds in my music. My heritage is a huge musical inspiration for me. My music is a mix of various genres but often comes back a Caribbean Neo-Soul vibe, and I love playing shows where the audience is unfamiliar to anything Haitian and through my music, they discover a new culture and they vibe to the songs even if they don’t understand Haitian Creole. I will always choose to showcase the beauty of Haiti and Haitian culture through my art and words. I think that as a Haitian American I have a responsibility to share my Haitian heritage in a positive light and invite people to discover Haiti for themselves rather than feeding into a lot of th misconceptions that are out there. In everything that I do, I strive to represent Haiti justly all while being a part of the generation of Haitian Americans creating a fusion of two cultures into music.

What projects are you currently working on for 2019?

2019 is about showing the different sides of myself musically and artistically, at the moment I am freely creating new music and content and experimenting with different sounds and vibes. I have a lot of new music and projects on the way, so stay tuned!

Bianca Silva
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Bianca Silva

Bianca Silva is a journalist and photographer living in New York City. She has written for TIME, Amsterdam News, TODAY.com, Harlem Focus and The WEEK.
Bianca Silva
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Jan. 03, 2019

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