Jwaye Nwèl - Merry Christmas

by Olence Calixte

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Olence Calixte is a blind musician from Ile de la Tortue off the North coast of Haiti. At the age of 15, he was struck by sudden blindness. Soon after, his mother gave him a guitar to keep him occupied. He's rarely been seen without one since. He now lives in a tent next to the ruins of the Catholic Cathedral in Port-au-Prince. He plays his plaintive songs for any of the tourists that come by, hoping they are feeling generous so he can feed his family. Mostly, though, he plays for his community of fellow homeless friends that live near him on the street. He brings comfort through his songs, which range from heartbreaking to humorous, but always speak to their everyday reality.

With the help of filmmaker Inigo Gilmore, Lakou Mizik recently brought Olence into the recording studio to play some of his music - we fell in love with his songs and his spirit and now hope to release an EP for him in 2013.

One of the songs we recorded that day is this wonderful Christmas tune, "Jwaye Nwèl - Merry Christmas" - The song is an open-hearted, celebratory yuletide anthem wishing that Santa brings a Merry Christmas for all Haitians - even if they are "barefooted" or "homeless" (with a special mention of those, like Calixte, living on the streets by the Cathedral). Challenging us all to find joy in life no matter our struggles and stresses.

I love this song and it was produced in true international Lakou Mizik style with vocals and guitar recorded in Port-au-Prince, lead guitars in Montreal, Bass in Nashville and even some horn lines in Brooklyn. This song is a true collaboration and a Christmas carol for the ages!

Please consider purchasing "Jwaye Nwèl - Merry Christmas" at whatever price feels good to you. All the musicians and producers have donated their time and talent so 100% of your purchase will go directly to Olence Calixte. Let's show him some seasonal love and give him the Christmas he deserves!

Happy Holidays to all & may your New Year be filled with music, merriment and more music!!!

Zach Niles
Lakou Mizik

*Jwaye Nwèl is a production of Lakou Mizik - a multi-media celebration of Haitian music and culture. To help Lakou Mizik continue to support artists like Olence Calixte please consider making a tax-deductible donation through The Abundance Foundation (Please specify that it is for "Lakou Mizik") To donate - CLICK HERE: www.abundance.org/donate/?t=arts-education

Big Thank You to everyone who donated their time to "Jwaye Nwèl!" - Steeve Valcourt, Christian Aramy, Allen Juste, Dedline Charles, Chris Velan, Chris Donohue, Derri Daugherty, Jeremy Thal & The PeaceTones® Initiative!

And to everyone who makes Lakou Mizik possible! The Abundance Foundation, Shelley Lazar, Godin Guitars, Afya Foundation, Blue Microphones, Focusrite, Arcade Fire, The Salmon Foundation and the whole Lakou Mizik crew!


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released December 21, 2012
Jwaye Nwèl {Merry Christmas} - A Lakou Mizik Production
Olence Calixte, Voice, Guitar (Haiti)
Dedline Charles, Choral Voice (Haiti)
Allen Juste, Accordion (Haiti)
Chris Velan, Lead Guitar (Montreal, Canada)
Chris Donohue, Bass, Percussion (Nashville, USA)
Jeremy Thal, Trumpet (Brooklyn, NY)
Mixed by Derri Daugherty (Nashville, USA)
Recorded at Lakou Mizik Studios in Port-au-Prince, Haiti by Steeve Valcourt.
Producer - Zach Niles



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PeaceTones® Houston, Texas

The PeaceTones® Initiative supports talented, unknown artists from developing nations build their careers while giving back to their communities. We train our artists on their legal rights and marketing techniques, and distribute their work internationally.

Ninety percent of product sales go to the musicians and their community’s development goal.
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