Wesli (Wesley Louissaint) is a born entertainer and the 2011 recipient of the Galaxy Rising Star Award at TD Sunfest. Born in Port-au-Prince Haiti but tempered in West Africa and Montreal (where he now lives), he takes Haitian traditions like voodoo and street styles like rara and finds links with everything from afrobeat and reggae to quirky Acadian hip-hop. The result is a powerful groove machine fed by a spicy musical pot-o-feu (French beef stew). Wesli’s latest album, Rapadou Kreyol, won a 2019 JUNO Award in the World Music category. Sung entirely in Creole, it reaffirms the artist’s commitment to his country of origin. Also, a few weeks ago, Wesli was chosen World Solo Artist of the Year at the 2020 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Assembling things 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 the 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.
As well as a brilliant singer-songwriter and guitarist, Wesli is a person who loves writing and communicating information. And his message is one of hope amid ongoing frustration and sorrow. “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.”