Bel is one-half of the Canadian Jazz duo known as Bel and Quinn. The Canada-born singer-songwriter and her sister-partner has wrestled with depression to become of the hottest acts on the Canadian scene. Read our exchange below!
Kreyolicious: You’re a Canadian of Haitian descent. What was it like growing up with that dual identity?
Bel: It’s something that I really treasured as an adult. When I was a teenager, this dual identity was unclear. I sometimes felt that I could not express my Haitian origins. However, when I reached adulthood, I asked myself more questions: who am I? Where do I come from? To understand who I am, I need to understand my origins, history and it’s a search that I have not completed to date. This is an important pursuit.
Kreyolicious: Which artists did you grow up admiring?
Bel: I listened to various bands such as The Beatles, The Smiths, Rolling Stones, Isley Brothers, Fugees etc. Growing up, I discovered artists who inspired me in an incredible way. I’m talking about Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and so on.
Kreyolicious: What made you and Quinn start the group?
Bel: Music has helped us overcome great difficulties such as illness. Without music, I can not even imagine how we would have survived. It gave us a voice. The voice we didn’t have when we were younger.
Kreyolicious: Now you are part of a group with two leading members. How do you handle creative differences?
Bel: I have to say, it works pretty well. I write lyrics and Quinn composes the music. If there are differences, we take the time to discuss them and we always manage to find common ground.
Kreyolicious: You been to Haiti yet?
Bel: Not yet, but I have to go. I want to go [this year] if possible.
Kreyolicious: When do you feel the most beautiful?
Bel: When I’m on stage, I feel beautiful and confident. Being able to sing and share my music gives me incredible strength. I’m not afraid of anything.
Kreyolicious: What’s the music scene like right now in Canada?
Bel: Right now, there are different things going on. If I talk about the jazz scene, it’s not accessible. It’s not easy. It lacks opportunities for artists of cultural diversity. By cons, there are multiple festivals. During summer, Montreal vibrates with music.
Did you miss my interview with Bel’s other half? CLICK HERE to read the interview with Quinn!
CLICK HERE to read other interviews and features with Canadians of Haitian descent!