The Beatles of Haiti
This Friday, Big Night in Little Haiti will turn the entire hood into a massive dance floor. Shleu Shleu, compas music's living legends who have wowed crowds around the world since 1965, will play the Little Haiti Cultural Center. The band's name is a play on words that loosely translates to "the hardest-hitting fighters." Bandleader Smith Jean-Baptiste was an innovator of riding the crash cymbal, which is so prevalent in the compas style today.
The humble man admits, "In some way, I'm like the grandfather of compas." Smith started the band when he was 14 years old and soon had a residency at the hotel Villa Creole. Because of the bandmates' young ages, the era of the group's inception, and the attention the members garnered, fans called them the Beatles of Haiti. In the '70s and '80s, they tore up dance floors in New York and then moved to Miami in the '00s. Shleu Shleu is working on a new album and will perform a two-hour set including new songs, along with classic hits such as the up-tempo "Trou Krab." The party will also feature the Kreyol Mardi Gras launch for the Miami Broward One Carnival, so the air will be thick with celebration.
Fri., Sept. 16, 6 p.m., 2011
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