Two of Rhythm Foundation’s long-running signature events came together for one very special night last weekend. The monthly Big Night in Little Haiti coincided with our annual celebration of Fete de la Musique, held every June 21 to welcome summer! Fete de la Musique took place within Big Night at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, and then spilled out onto the streets surrounding the venue to keep the party going late into the night.
One of the hallmarks of Fete de la Musique, which began 35 years ago in Paris to celebrate the solstice with free music, is a chance for anyone to make music – from amateurs to professionals. The night began with two hours of Open Mike. Talented performers filled the plaza of the Cultural Center with music – a young cellist from New World School of the Arts, a lively old-school Haitian kompas band, a young singer and more. In a nod to the Francophonie of the night, the Haitian food vendor was joined by a crepes truck, and a team of volunteers from the Consulate General of France in Miami’s Cultural Service helped host the show.
At 8pm, the Main Stage presentation began, with a concert by one of the stars of “la nouvelle scene”, a new folk revival from the French Caribbean. Stevy Mahy, a lovely young singer from Guadeloupe and Paris, performed a set with her band. Her music was chilled out elegant grooves. Between sets, DJ Mack of Mizikpam.com kept the party lively. After Stevy finished her set, up marched Rara Lakay, the Little Haiti-based carnival massive, sweeping people into the street with an overwhelming sound of percussion, horns, and chants. Other Fete de la Musique events also took place at The Embassy Bistro and 7th Circuit Studios, neighboring venues of the Little Haiti Cultural Center.
In the gallery, there was one last chance to see the fantastic collection of Haitian artisan crafts, curated by Donna Karan, presented by the Urban Zen Project and the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance. In the studio, hundreds of children enjoyed supervised art activities hosted by Positive Impact Foundation and the Bass Museum of Art. The crowd, still in a mood to party from the previous night’s Heat NBA victory, enjoyed a warm summer night of music and friendship.
Big Night in Little Haiti takes place every 3rd Friday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59 Terrace, Miami. Cool Caribbean blog LargeUp.com featured Big Night this month, calling it the best Caribbean event in the US. It is produced by the Rhythm Foundation and the Little Haiti Cultural Center with major support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Big Night was awarded an annual grant this month from the Miami Foundation as well!