Music has long been used as a vehicle to drive social awareness forward. Artists like Bob Marley and Gil Scott-Heron tackled political issues head-on in their lyrics and used their voices to speak for the forgotten, marginalized people. Such artists are found in all corners of the world.
In Haiti, Joseph Emmanuel “Manno” Charlemagne followed this tradition fervently, writing songs about Haitian politics and the circumstances of his countrymen. Charlemagne died Sunday, Dec. 10, in a Miami Beach hospital where he was being treated for cancer.
WLRN’s social justice reporter Nadege Green joined the program to remember Charlemagne, his legacy and role within the Haitian community.
Charlemagne’s music symbolized resistance.
“[Charlemagne] was almost like the conscience of a country,” Green said. “His music spoke to all the underlying issues in Haiti.”
His lyrics addressed politics, corruption and the quality of life of everyday people.
Charlemagne grew up in Port-au-Prince where he became a musician and activist. He was detained and arrested a number of times. Consequently, Charlemagne was exiled from his homeland and settled in Miami.
His guitar-playing style is quasi-romantic, alluding to what could be confused as a love song for those who do not speak Creole. But mostly the lyrics are scathing tales about Haiti’s political leaders, especially the Duvaliers.
His death has created newfound interest in his message, particularly with millennials.
“This is who he was and his message is playing out more now in his death,” Green said. “Perhaps now more folks will hear his music and reflect on what that meant and what his words meant then and what they mean in the context of today.”
You can hear the conversation with Nadege Green on Thursday’s edition of the program.
Stuck in traffic? Admire the art
Traffic boxes in Broward County will soon be decorated by an emerging artist. Artist and Broward College freshman Ruth Burotte, 18, is the youngest person to receive a Broward Public Art Commission. She is in charge of designing artwork used to beautify eight traffic signal cabinets.
Burotte dubbed her project, Urban Treasures.
“I’m trying to represent urban excellence with my art,” Burotte said. The concept will be centered around music motifs inspired by African-American musicians native to Broward County.
Burotte, a graduate of Dillard Center for the Arts at Dillard High School, has been involved in the Broward County art scene since a young age.
“Art was taken seriously throughout my life,” Burotte said about experimenting with different art mediums. “When I got to high school I found out there were these art magnet programs and considered the option of art as a career.”
Throughout her young career, Burotte has taken on a mentor role with other artists, motivating them and helping improve their techniques. “I treat them as my friends and try to help them as much as possible.”
The project is set to begin in the coming weeks
Change-up at Marlins Park
From ownership to the current roster, the Miami Marlins are going through some major changes. The organization is readying itself for a re-building process. Under the leadership of retired New York Yankees star Derek Jeter and company, big-ticket names have been traded as part of the new game plan.
Miami Herald sports writer Andres Fernandez joined the program to talk about the current state of the Marlins.
“They are trading pieces to build for the future,” said Fernadez.
The seemingly unexpected trades were needed to clear payroll. Previous ownership mishandling of funds prevented the organization to keep up with large contracts, such as Giancarlo Stanton's. The slugger had signed a $325 million deal with the Marlins the previous season.
The moves have fans puzzled and concerned for future seasons, questioning the leadership of Jeter and the Sherman brothers, which parallels the criticism that was in place regarding the previous owner, Jeffery Loria.
“The Marlins are starting from the ground up,” Fernandez said. “They want to do it this way to make sure it does not happen again in the future.”
The fate of remaining players, like standout center-fielder Christian Yelich, remains in question as the off-season continues.