Ragganga Artist Bélo Talks Tonight's Big Night in Little Haiti Bash

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The third Friday of the month is here. And if you don't what that means, it's Big Night In Little Haiti. Everybody raise your cannons and bayonets for liberté, égalité, fraternité.

Tonight, world festival circuit rock star Bélo will fire up the city alongside Miami's own Lanzallamas Monofónica with a free show at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, just a couple blocks up from Churchill's Pub.

Check out what Bélo has to say about his signature sound, first guitar, and what the business is.

Crossfade: So, how did you get started?

Bélo: I started at school like so many Haitian artists. I decided to do music at the age of 11. so after I finished with university, I came out with my first album. In 1998, two of the biggest producers in Haiti discovered me, so they decided to produce my first album. And in 2005, we entered the studio.

What is ragganga?

Ragganga is what I call my music, which is a mix of traditional reggae music with rock, jazz, and African rhythms.

What's your weapon of choice?

I play guitar.

What's the story behind your first guitar?

When I started, I wanted to be a bass player actually. My first guitar was a gift intended for my cousin for his birthday. He lent it to me for a year, and I started out playing bass on it. I couldn't sing as well while playing, so I practiced and taught myself. In 1998, I started to compose music; and since that day, I have used the guitar to compose, and to lead my band on stage.

How many people are in your band?

Sometimes I have like four, five, or ten people. It depends on where I am in the world. I have two bands in Paris, one in Florida who play with me in South America, and one group in New York when I'm up north. Then I also have my band in Haiti.

Who are some of your influences?

My favorite American artist is Tracy Chapman. I also love the Dave Matthews Band. Some other great artists in Haiti and Africa that I really love that I listen to so many times are  Angelique Kidj, Boukman Eksperyans, and Tabou Combo.

What do you say to a kid who wants to be a musician for a living?

The message is that whatever you want to be in life, you have to go to school first. It's really useful to go to school, not just to be an accountant or lawyer, because it teaches you how to manage your life and everything you're doing. Music is fun and art. But it's a business too. So if you don't have a good education, you might not be able to handle the success.

Bélo and Lanzallamas Monofonica at Big Night In Little Haiti, presented by Rhythm Foundation. The Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terr., Miami. The show starts at 6 p.m. Visit rhythmfoundation.com.Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

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