This artist performed at the VFMF in 2017

Québec | Haiti

Wesley Louissaint is a born entertainer who’s groove machine skillfully cooks up afrobeats, reggae, rock and Haitian Rara into a unique blend of spicy pot-o-feu.

Since he strung his first oil-can to make a guitar, musician and songwriter Wesli has taken seemingly disparate elements and tinkered with them ingeniously until they turn into a powerful groove. Born in Port-au-Prince, tempered in West Africa and Montreal, the guitarist and songwriter takes Haitian traditions like vodou, street styles like rara, and finds links with everything from reggae to quirky Acadian hip hop.

Putting things together to connect more deeply to the past comes naturally to Wesli. His mother, a pastor, incorporated vodou ceremonial music into the music of her church, something many Haitian gospel groups often do. He has performed with icons of African reggae, dug deep into musical friendships with master artists from Guinea and Burkina Faso, and collaborated with some of the edgier global voices on the eclectic but tight-knit Montreal scene. He is a favorite player among Haitians.

And his own work brings it all together without losing sight of the musical lessons he learned in Port au Prince. His message is one of hope amid ongoing frustration and sorrow. He says, “You want to say something useful to society, not just entertain people.” “I connect the frustrations I felt in Haiti, the political and cultural issues, to express my hope, a better situation for Haitians and for all African diasporic people. That’s what I want to share.” Listen to his music: the message comes through, loud and clear.