Radio-Canada (CBC) Revelation of the year 2009/2010, Babel Med Music Award in France and Nominee for the Canadian Folk Music Awards and Gala Soba in the World Solo Artist of the Year category. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haïti, Wesley Louissaint aka Wesli built his first guitar at eight years old out of an old NGO provided oil can and a nylon shing line. Raised in a family counting seven children cramped in a household where music was omnipresent, it soon became second nature to him as well as a way to escape his surroundings.
He began his musical adventure by joining his neighbourhood church gospel choir and then started playing the guitar which quickly became his main instrument. Encouraged by his father and his older brother Wesli joined Jazz 4ever, an afro-roots quartet with which he gave a few performances throughout Haïti. Working non-stop to hone his skills as it was his only hope for a better quality of life, Wesli got hired as a sideman playing with The Kreyol Mizik Company giving shows with some of the biggest West Indian names of the time ( i.e. Jacky Rapon, Léa Galva, Jocelyn Delormeau, Thierry Cham, Leila Chico, Sonia Derson and the sadly missed Edith Lefeyl). A short while later, he gets a gig with So Kute, a well liked Soul Music band with which he produced and recorded an album which attained a fair measure of success in Haïti.
He immigrated to Canada in 2001 and decided to settle in Montreal where he worked closely with Les Productions Nuits d’Afrique and backed some well known African artists such as Monique Seka, King Mensah, Amadou Sodia, Sekouba Bambino and Hamid Bouchnak among others. Having gained more self condence by letting himself be known and appreciated, Wesli started to collaborate as a composer and a producer with Montreal bred artists such as Sénaya (“Garde la tête haute”, 2005) and Sara Rénélik (“Aube”, 2006). He also worked as a guitarist with Gage, Jodie Rester, Inword, Z’wa, Syncop, Nathalie Choquette, Lorraine Klaasen, Zal Idrissa Sissokho, Pierre-Michel Ménard and Lilison Di Kinara and became the musical director of Troupe Line 1.
Here he is opening up for African reggae legend Alpha Blondy a couple of years ago:
He also performed in several major indoor and outdoor festival events such as The Montreal International Jazz Festival, Les FrancoFolies de Montréal, Quebec’s International Summer Festival, The Chicoutimi World Music Festival, Ottawa’s Urbanfest, Le Festival International des Nuits d’Afrique, the Roots & Culture event in Miami while working at the same time as producer and co-writer and composer on a variety of other musical projects. All this enriching activity added to Wesli’s reputation as an arranger and as a soloist.
His very first album entitled Kouraj (“Courage” – 2009) showed Wesli emerging as one of Montreal’s most exciting new artists. To his talents as a singer and gifted multi-instrumentalist, he is socially engaged and versatile when working as a producer. Wesli delivers high-octane music which is at the same time rich in colour, festive and joyful even as it is also a living testimony to the misery which unfortunately still exists and prevails in Haïti as well as in other French Caribbean, African and too many other countries worldwide.
In December 2011, he released his second album, Liberté dans le noir (on the WUP label) featuring inventives takes on his usual musical mix of Afrobeat, soul, folk, rock and reggae. This time, he’s included guest appearances from Boogat, Radio Radio, Mes Aïeux, Paul Cargnello, Karma Atchykah and legendary West African reggae star Tiken Jah Fakoly, for whom he opened up while on the Canadian leg of his tour.
Wesley Louissaint has produced, composed and arranged musical creations for films, including CBC’s documentary about Dany Laferrière. He composed, with Arianne Moffat, Nomadic Massive and Doba, the popular song « Nap chante pou Ayiti » the day after the earthquake in Haiti, on January 12th 2010.
Here’s the official video for ‘Colonisation’ – the song he recorded last year with none other than Tiken Jah Fakoly:
Our goal is to establish Hamilton and Southern Ontario as a vibrant cultural area by promoting the best in music and arts from around the world.
MATAPA aims to celebrate cultural diversity through the presentations of world music and arts, festivals and education.
MATAPA aims to build international networks through the development of new collaborations between musicians, artists and multi-disciplines to strengthen the local arts infrastructures primarily in countries of Global South and Canada.