By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
"We don't practice vodou, but we understand the relevance that vodou has in our culture," notes Etienne. Accordingly, the band's percussionists have learned 25 of the 121 extant Haitian ritual rhythms.
Etienne, who came to Miami at age seven, credits her mother with teaching her about Haitian pride. She learned to speak Creole and to do folkloric dances as a child. And she recalls that, because Haiti is such a poor place, Haitian kids would sometimes be made fun of at school; some Haitian students would lie and say they were Jamaican. "Someone didn't educate those children the right way," she says.
In addition to performing at Power Studios each Thursday night and playing at Haitian community events such as the recent Roots and Culture Festival, the members of Ayanbonmbe teach Haitian dance Saturday afternoons at the Performing Arts Network (PAN) in Miami Beach. Among the current crop of students is the Josephs' four-year-old daughter Marcine, who seems to have taken naturally to the beat of the drums.
"It's really wonderful to see her pick up on it," Jacquecine Etienne says proudly, adding that her daughter's talent is easy to understand. "Well, she is Haitian."
Ayabonmbe performs tonight (Thursday) with Kanpech and Koudjay at Power Studios, 3701 NE 2nd Ave; 573-8042. Doors open at 9:00 p.m. Admission is $12.