By Jonel Juste
This story originally featured on Le National
Music lovers, be reassured. The sound of the music, the melody, the rhythm, the fun and the food have not melted away after Big Night in Little Haiti stopped last April for lack of funds. Say Hi to Sounds of Little Haiti.
Last April, when Big Night in Little Haiti was bidding farewell, those who accompanied this monthly event in the Haitian community for the past 5 years were dismayed. To some of the aficionados, attending the last “Big Night” was like attending the funeral of a good old friend. Only memories were left to cherish.
Early in April the news broke that the Rhythm Foundation would not be able to host the musical and family-friendly event anymore because the money ran out, and they could not find sponsors. According to Rhythm Foundation, Big Night in Little Haiti came with a price tag of $10.000 a month. Impossible to keep going without sponsors since the event is free to attend.
However, for the sake of music and Haitian culture lovers, all hope was not lost. As nature abhors a vacuum, it didn’t take long before Big Night in Little Haiti found a replacement. In fact, just one month later, on May 20th, the Little Haiti Cultural Center’s premises (212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137), where Big Night used to take place, was resounding with music again. This time, the band was the famed Tabou Combo and the event was renamed “Sounds of Little Haiti”.
The recipe stays the same, it is the same family-friendly musical event, but under new management. The new organizer is Sandy Dorsainvil, the former director of the Little Haiti Cultural Center (LHCC). Mrs. Dorsainvil, who used to help with “Big Night” as LHCC’s director, confessed to Le National that it broke her heart to see the monthly event coming to a stop, that’s why she decided to take the helm.
“As a member of the Haitian community, I could not let this event die out because it attracted tourists and put Little Haiti on the map”, she explained. In collaboration with Global Mass Production, an entertainment company in Miami, and some local sponsors, the cultural monthly event kept going.
Since May, there hasn’t been really a break. The music hasn’t stopped. The show continues with a Haitian musical band every third Friday of the month. After Tabou Combo, other bands such as Harmonik (June), System Band (July), and Xtassy (August) occupied the stage of Sounds of Little Haiti.
“The lineup consists of alternating different generation of bands every month”, said Sandy Dorsainvil. As a new feature to Sounds of Little Haiti, the organizers offer a space to Haitian American professional Associations in Florida to inform the visitors about their activities and the life of the community.“Little Haiti aims to be the showcase of the Diaspora, a place for Haitians everywhere to meet, greet and learn about the Haitian community outside of Haiti”, stated Sandy Dorsainvil.
So far so good, the “Big Night” audience has caught the “Sound of Little Haiti” train. However, Mrs Dorsainvil call the Haitian community in Miami to show more support for the free event either by donating or purchasing food and drink sold onsite.
Sounds of Little Haiti is about the music and Haitian culture exclusively; it also aims to be a platform, a place to meet with the Haitian community in Miami, according to Sandy Dorsainvil.
The last we heard, Big Night in Little Haiti has not completely disappeared. It will return, not as a monthly event, but as a yearly music festival this November, confirmed Mrs. Dorsainvil.