Michael Brun was a student at Indiana's Culver Military Academy in 2010 when Hell-on-Earth struck his native Haiti. The massive earthquake killed more than 220,000, injured more than 300,000 others, and left more than a million people homeless. The island was in shambles; there was no communication in or out. Brun waited two weeks before getting word that his father was OK. His mother and sister were also safe; they had been in Guyana attending his grandmother’s funeral.
Tragedy can change a man. Brun gained an appreciation for the important things in life: education, health, friends, and family.
“We as Haitians all had to ask ourselves, What is your goal in life?" Brun says. "And how can you do more? Going through the earthquake pushed me to be better and care more about my community. It made me want to show the world the good things Haiti can do.”
In 2016, Brun released the hit single “Wherever I Go” to benefit the Haitian nonprofit organization Artists for Peace and Justice. Later he hosted a festival that earned enough money to foot the bill for 33 students to attend the Audio Institute, a school for sound engineers, in Jacmel, Haiti. Last weekend Brun appeared at LIV, and this Friday he’ll be back to his giving ways at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. Brun is hosting a free Miami Music Week party with Haitian acts, beer, and food. His friends Lakou Mizik, Rara Lakay, Zoey Dollaz, and DJ Whoo Kid will also be in the neighborhood.
Brun has come so far since 2010. Back then, he was making horrible mashups on Virtual DJ. He laughs as he describes his keys to making a horrible remix: “When I started, at least I knew I was really bad. I’d put the tempo up superfast on one track, and I'd grab vocals from the Police or other '80s bands my parents liked, and I’d hit the sync button. Done.”
He earned a full academic scholarship to Davidson College in North Carolina, which NBA superstar Stephen Curry also attended. Brun was premed when he debuted at Ultra Music Festival in 2014. He played Coachella later that year, after having graduated from his “sync button” days. He’s now a label owner and has spent more time atop the charts than he did in class. For the time being, his music career has a comfortable lead on the medical one.
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The tracks “U” and “All I Ever Wanted” provide a taste of Brun’s fresh and cosmic production style. The label he founded, Kid Coconut, and his music will continue to top his list of priorities, but he also has a passion to give back to Haiti.
The Haitian flag goes everywhere with him, along with motivation gained from all the Haitians who have paid the ultimate price. “I want to show the value of Haitian culture,” Brun says.
Michael Brun & Friends: Bayo Block Party
6 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 24, at Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Ter., Miami; 305-960-2969; littlehaiticulturalcenter.com. Admission is free.