By Naeisha Rose
BélO, a Haitian international artist released his sixth album Motivayson on July 18 at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. With a milestone birthday of 40 approaching in a few months, the artist, whose real name is Jean Bélony Murat, wanted to use this time to reflect on his life and the turmoil Haiti has undergone over the past few years. For him it’s an opportunity to give back musically to his people with some uplifting songs by evolving his hybrid Ragganga sound with Afro-Haitian rhythms.
“I live in Haiti,” said BélO. “The youth are so underappreciated in Haiti. Too many people only have criticism for them. Not too much advice, models or complement to the youth. I felt I’m going to turn 40 now, and wish that was something that I had when I was younger. Time, age and experience have given me the opportunity to be the person I am today. It is a good time to give them advice and maybe show them the way.”
The main track on the album is Tilandeng.
“It talks about who I am and what I did to be who I am,” said BélO, the 2006 RFI discovery artist winner. “Don’t let people use you or abuse you.”
The next song on the album is Gran Neg Les Geoliers.
“It means you are a rich man,” said BélO. “On this song, I am telling people there are other ways to be rich than with just money. If you have a good heart then to me you are gran neg and you are even richer than someone with a lot of money.”
Pwofese Yo recognizes all the teachers on the Caribbean island who dedicate their lives to the betterment of the next generation but may feel underappreciated.
“In a country like Haiti, where the people don’t really pay attention to the teachers, but I know if you want to be a president, a musician or whatever you want to be in your life, you have to use the service of a teacher,” said the artist. “I felt like it would be so good for them to hear from us and know that we love them. My wife [Maud] is a teacher. I know the life of a teacher.”
Tigason is a shout out to the Haitian youth.
“They always try to imitate what is not always positive,” said BélO. “In this song, I am telling them to stay clean in the mind and clean in their look. I’m telling them the many things that happened to the Haitian people and the reason why they happened because we don’t want to use the youth.”
Geometry of Time is about not putting off important matters.
“What you have to do you have to do today,” said BélO. “Don’t leave for tomorrow what you could do today. Now you are young, you have the strength to do what you have to do.”
Swiv Wout Ou is about his time in Croix-des-Bouquets.
“Follow your way,” said BélO. “In this song, I’m explaining my life. I was born in a village with no electricity, no power, no nothing, but that did not stop me from dreaming big. I am this person this day because I followed my path. Follow your dream.”
Mon Ilot is a song in French about Haiti.
“The situation of degradation that we have in Haiti is basically based on so many things that we did not do or that happened to us,” said BélO. “Despite anything that you hear on the news, we are still the first black republic ever, Haiti is still a country of people full of resiliency, and is a country full of life.”
Bousol is about the future of Haiti.
“Last year after what happened on July 6 and 7th I realized the people are going in all different directions,” said BélO about the Port au Prince riots. “There is no compass. There is no leadership. This is the time to put our heads together and determine what we are going to do where we are going to go.”
Eda is a folkloric romantic song that was produced with the help of DJ Michael Brun, who he was ecstatic to work with.
“As a professional artist for 14 years – combining my experience with his sound creates this new fresh sound on Eda,” said BélO. “It was a pleasure to collaborate with him.”
As he continues to grow as an artist, BélO will never forget where he came from.
“The village I grew up in voodoo was very present,” said BélO. “So music was all around me in this environment.”
Whenever he needs a new idea he mentally goes back to Croix.
“Every time I need inspiration I go back to my village,” said BélO. “I find melodies and things that sound different. I am so thankful for I was born in this area. I am still connected with this area, and that is why I have a music festival in this area.”