Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Manno Charlemagne, Haitian Folk Singer & Activist, To Play Preservation Hall / 11.13.10

At Preservation Hall 
Saturday, November 13, 2010 
(Midnight Show)
Preservation Hall is proud to welcome the beloved Haitian musician, activist, and former Mayor of Port Au Prince, Mr. Manno Charlemagne for an intimate midnight performance on Saturday, November 13th, 2010. 
 Often referred to as “The Bob Marley of Haiti,” Mr. Charlemagne has been the vocal conscience of Haiti for over 30 years. Performing politically charged folk ballads in French and Creole, Manno used his voice and guitar as weapons in the fight against the brutal Jean-Claude Duvalier regime in the 1970s and 1980s and was consequently exiled from Haiti until the regime’s downfall in 1986.

Upon his return to Haiti in ‘86, Charlemagne became immediately active in the political and roots music scene. Manno enlisted more musicians to form Koral Konbit Kafou, a live band which included a group of drummers from a Voudou temple. The band’s performances served as a soundtrack for political change in the late 1980s. Again, Manno’s grassroots mission caught the eye of the Haitian military. After receiving a series of death threats, Manno was forced into exile once again, this time taking refuge in the Argentine embassy in Port-au-Prince. News of his situation soon spread to the U.S. and then on to film director Jonathan Demme, who united with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, James Earl Jones, and Robert DiNiro to lobby on Manno’s behalf. These efforts ultimately won the activist musician his freedom and gained him political exile in the United States where he went on to perform concerts in Miami, New York, and Montreal to rally support from Haitian expatriate communities in support of Haitian democracy.

Manno returned to Haiti in 1994 following a United Nations intervention to restore the constitutional government. In 1995 he won a landslide victory to become mayor of Port-au-Prince for what was for the most part an unsuccessful and short-lived career as a politician. Charlemagne returned to his true calling as a musician shortly thereafter.

Adversity struck Charlemagne and the country of Haiti once again on January 12, 2010 when a catastrophic earthquake struck just outside of Port-au-Prince, killing over 200,000 people, injuring over 300,000, and rendering 1,000,000 homeless. Manno’s home was leveled in the quake.
From November 1st thru November 15th, Mr. Charlemagne will take a brief residency in Louisiana. The goal of the residency is to give Manno an opportunity to network with Louisiana's music and arts community, share his breathtaking music, and to tell his story which is the story of the struggle of the Haitian people. The residency will be part fundraiser, part networking opportunity, part performance, and part social activism.

With Helen Gillet
Saturday, November 13th, 2010

At Preservation Hall 726 St. Peter Street, New Orleans
Doors 11:30 pm, Show at Midnight
Tickets $25, advance tickets available at

Manno Charlemagne links:

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