It’s always good to hear singers emerging out of Haiti. One such voice is the singer Rutshelle Guillaume, whose Jazz-R&B-World-blending album Emotions will overpower you with its 9 enchanting tracks.
There’s a song mid-way in the album called “Wale” (You’re Gone) that gives the record its most emotional (er, no pun intended, but if the shoe, er chord fits…) moments. Naturally, it’s a song about loss.
Mwen pa menm konnen si ou padone’m
Mwen pa menm jwenn kò’w pou’m antere’w
I don’t even know if you ever forgave me
Couldn’t even find money for your funeral
Lanati ou fè’m mal
Mwen pa menm jwenn kò’w pou’m antere
Mother Nature, you did me wrong
Couldn’t even find your corpse to give you a proper burial
Clearly, this loss—so beautifully sung about in “Wale”—occurred over the course of a natural disaster. There’s this lack of closure between the narrator and the loved one who unceremoniously perished.
Mwen pa menm konn si ou padone’m
Nou pa menm genta repale
I’m not even sure you forgave me
We never got the chance to talk it over
There are arguments that seemed so important before that have lost their significance.
Mwen pa menm sonje poukisa nou bougonnen
Map rete tann ou vini pita…Ou pa retounen
Kèk fwa nou konn diskite
Se premye fwa nou pa rekonsilye
Koz la tè ki tranble
Can’t even remember what we were bickering about
Here I was thinking we’d talk later…but you never came back
Sometimes we’d argue
This is the first time we never got to make up
Cause the earth shook
When she sings, “Lanati ale avèk tout sa mwen posede/Mwen santi mwen pa ekziste”—Mother Nature done went with all I had/I feel like I don’t exist at all”, you already know from the emotional cracks in her voice that the “possessions” she refers to have nothing to do with material loss, but something deeper…something irreplaceable.
The theme of mourning repeats itself in “Kite’m Kriye” (Let Me Cry). The difference between the sorrow in “Wale” when contrasted to “Kite’m Kriye”. The tears in “Kite’m Kriye” are self-willed and deliberate. To live is to cry and crying is part of living:
Mwen rayi lè ma’p kriye, pou w’ap mande’m sa mwen genyen
Kriye se dwa mwen
Can’t stand it when you ask me what’s wrong with me
Crying is my right
To live is to cry, even when it’s not clear as to where the pain stems from:
Se pa tout fwa m’kriye, mwen konn sa mwen genyen
It’s not every time that I shed tears that I can figure out exactly what’s wrong
It can be said without much reservation that “Kite’m Kriye” ties with “Wale” for the honor of best track on the album. These two songs are so enthralling that had the other tracks had been mere fillers, the record would still have worked. But the other tracks are far from being the musical pads. On “Lanmou Vle Nou” (Love Is On Our Side), and on “Bon Jan Van” (Some Fresh Air), it’s fun to see the singer loosening up a little. The latter song even features some frantic rapping-singing alongside her duet partner Katalog, as they articulate on a night of passion:
Mwen gen lontan map ret tann yon nonm ki konn monte, ki konn desann, ki konn bese, ki konn bese, ki konn kouri, ki konn kache
It’s been a while since I’ve been on the look out for a man who knows how to climb, how to come down, how to bend, run, and hide
On “Je Suis” (I Am), she’s backed up by a pounding chorus, as she belts shoulder-patting verses about the strength and fortitude of the Creole woman. And returning to the subject of her singing-rapping, she does it more effectively on “Kenbe Liv Ou”—Hold On To Your Textbook. This song is very motivational in nature, and encourages youths to get edumakated. But wait…doesn’t the word “liv” in Creole also mean pound? Hidden within the lyrics of the song lies the message of being studious—yes, indeed. But the track also preaches holding on to one’s morals and virtues.
If there’s a theme on Emotions, it’s just that…emotions. It’s about a woman counting her blessings (“Mwen Renmen Renmen’w”—Love to Love You), celebrating passion (“Yon Bon Van”), grieving over her romantic failures (“Wale”), acknowledging the pain of others (“Non”—No; “Pou Yo”—Dedicated to Them), shrugging off the things she can’t change—but only after a proper emotional discharge (“Kite’m Kriye”).
Come on Kreyolicious cheries, get your Haitian music on. | CLICK HERE to Purchase Rutshelle’s album on CD Baby| Show Her Some Love on Her Facebook Page| Follow Her on Twitter