Interview: Canadian-Haitian Jazz Duo Bel and Quinn, PART II

Canadian Jazz duo Bel and Quinn
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.
Canadian Haitian jazz duo Bel and Quinn
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.
Canadian-Haitian Jazz Duo Bel and Quinn
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.
Bel and Quinn Canadian-Haitian Jazz Duo
Did you miss my interview with Bel’s other half? CLICK HERE to read the interview with Quinn!

VISIT the sisters’ website| Bel and Quinn on Youtube | Bel and Quinn on Twitter

Also…

CLICK HERE to read other interviews and features with Canadians of Haitian descent!

Original author: kreyolicious
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10 Questions With Singer-Songwriter Mikaelle Cartright, Part I

singer Mikaelle Cartwright
Mikaelle Cartright has a voice that’s like tropical silk. The New York-born, singer-songwriter has a jazzy style that recalls the styles of singers like Anita Baker with a little hint of Shirley Bassey. How did she develop her jazzy style? What role do her parents play in her support system as a singer-songwriter? Read on to find out.

Kreyolicious: Your name is Mikaelle, no doubt stemming from the name Michael, which means Who Can Be Like God? What is the most extraordinary thing that’s happened to your life that has had you saying the same phrase?
Mikaelle Cartright: Correct, my name means “Who is like God”. My existence causes me to ask that constantly. My birth was a miracle. My mother almost lost me. She was placed on bed rest somewhere around the fourth month. The muscles of her uterus were giving out and the doctor said I was going to just fall out. The medication, some hormone treatment, was barely available and when Baby Doc fell, it was chaos. My mother was, thank God, able to leave and go have me in New York where much of her family still lived. She received the proper care and boom, there I came, healthy and obviously, alive.

Kreyolicious: What was your childhood like? Did you have musical tendencies crawling in early on?
Mikaelle Cartright: My childhood was filled with music. We were home-schooled, in English, in Haiti… At home we always had grandpa’s old record player going. From Bach, to Mozart, to Chopin, Schwarz, and Tchaikovsky there was always something classical on thanks to Big sis Jamie, who went on to study Opera. But when my brother Chris and I got a chance to pick, it would be instrumental jazz standards, or 60s pop tunes.
singer Mikaelle Cartright
All if us loved music growing up. I was 10 when I sang a solo with my papa in church; 11 when I joined the choir. It all came very naturally. My dad played guitar and my mom led the choir. Totally natural, and we all got the bug. Did I mention my brother plays guitar and has written some of the most incredible rock songs ever?

Kreyolicious: Your parents have been supportive in your journey as a musical creative?
Mikaelle Cartright: Yah, mostly. So long as I am not raunchy or loose, they’re down. My mom has some unreasonable expectations, but that’s to be expected. She’s a pastor. I think my dad has given up on me. He doesn’t even know what I’m doing anymore.

Kreyolicious: You have such a jazzy style. What made you take up singing?
Mikaelle Cartright: Well everything I just said, plus, by the time I went to college, I had already started playing guitar…and while I was there I did a lot of open Mic nights. A friend of mine caught wind of that, and invited me to join a singers’ troupe planning shows for a local theater. I was with them almost two years. We did all kinds of styles of music, but the one that stuck most was the Jazz. Ever since 18 years old, I’ve been a fanatic. It changed everything about the music in me. It released everything you hear me doing today.

Kreyolicious: Were you taken by any singers growing up? What did you admire them?
Mikaelle Cartright: Shania Twain, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Toni Braxton, Bryan Adams, Boys II Men, Dru Hill, Luther Vandross and Usher. I grew up on them…They were there every night on Sweet FM. I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music so I snuck a radio in my bed every night and would listen till 1, 2 even 3 am…no one ever knew why I was so tired…Their voices were iconic. I knew that if I could sing like them, I’d be really good.

Later on, I went more toward soft rock/alternative and soul, listening, in depth, to John Mayer, Coldplay and India Arie. Those three are the reason I write music and aspire to creating beautiful songs that will lift people’s spirits. After all, they were my emotional anchors for so many years.

Kreyolicious: As a woman and singer, when do you feel the most beautiful?
Mikaelle Cartright: When my voice is bangin’.

This concludes PART I of the interview with Mikaelle Cartright. Meanwhile…

Visit the singer’s Youtube Channel |

Original author: kreyolicious
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