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Grammy-nominated artist will bring celebration of Haitian musicians to Chapel Hill

<p>Nathalie Joachim will perform her newest album "Famn d'Ayiti" on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 at the James and Susan Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall. The album conveys the heritage of female Haitian musicians. Photo courtesy of Josué Azor.</p>
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Nathalie Joachim will perform her newest album "Famn d'Ayiti" on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 at the James and Susan Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall. The album conveys the heritage of female Haitian musicians. Photo courtesy of Josué Azor.

In her most recent project, Grammy-nominated artist Nathalie Joachim explores her family’s heritage through music and attempts to give a voice to the female musicians of Haiti. 

On Jan. 10, Joachim and Spektral Quartet will perform Joachim’s "Fanm d’Ayiti," an album that explores the cultural heritage of female Haitian musicians.

The performance will be held in the James and Susan Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall and is hosted by Carolina Performing Arts. General admission costs $37 and student tickets cost $10. 

"Fanm d’Ayiti," meaning ‘women of Haiti,’ explores both Haitian musical culture and Joachim’s own family history.

The album weaves together arrangements of Haitian folk music, Joachim’s original music and recordings of interviews with female Haitian musicians. 

"Fanm d’Ayiti" was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music Album category.

Joachim spent about a year and a half researching the project, traveling between Haiti and the United States to conduct the interviews featured on the album. 

“I got to have some very intimate and beautiful conversations with them about their lives and their journeys as female artists,” Joachim said. 

Joachim has been a musician since childhood and is the co-founder of Flutronix, a flute duo with Allison Loggins-Hull. Loggins-Hull co-produced the "Fanm d’Ayiti" album with New York-based artist Tony Maimone. Spektral Quartet, a string quartet based in Chicago, joins Joachim both on the album and the tour. 

Spektral violinist Maeve Feinberg said this project was a powerful cultural experience.

Feinberg said Spektral aims to juxtapose music from the past and present in all their programs, and Joachim’s foray into generational heritage pushed this idea to new levels.

 “I feel really lucky to be interacting with a culture that’s so rich and that I’ve had no avenue into before,” Feinberg said. 

In addition to examining Haitian musical culture, "Fanm d’Ayiti" is a personal exploration of Joachim’s own family history. The project was largely inspired by Joachim’s grandmother, who died in 2015. Joachim remembers sitting under a mango tree at her grandmother’s house in Haiti, sharing stories with each other through music. 

 “Our favorite way of spending time together was making music,” she said. “Those are some of my most cherished childhood memories.” 

When her grandmother died, Joachim began thinking about other female Haitian musicians and was surprised to realize she didn’t know of many others. She began the project to tell the stories of these women and to connect past and future generations of Haitian women through music. 

Joachim said she was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about both her familial ties to Haiti and the country’s impact on Black history throughout the world.

“The Haitian Revolution was really what was the catalyst for a lot of change in the Americas and throughout the Caribbean,” Joachim said. “It feels wonderful to be representing Haiti in this way.” 

This is Joachim’s first project with such a strong cultural influence. Loggins-Hull said that "Fanm d’Ayiti" inspired Flutronix’s current project, "Discourse," which celebrates the power of community narratives and involvement, emphasizing the stories of the Chapel Hill area. 

“That project itself is entirely community-driven and led, and we’re working a lot with narratives,” Loggins-Hull said. “I think Nathalie’s project was the beginning of that.” 

Loggins-Hull also said that because "Fanm d’Ayiti" is grounded in Joachim’s personal experience, she is able to tell the larger story of Haitian musicians in a way that is relatable to the audience.

“I hope people leave the show seeing a lineage and a legacy that has been passed on to me through this music and that I’m hopefully passing on to the next generation,” Joachim said.


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