Haitian Hollywood Blog

A blog where you can speak your mind about any related Haiti and Haitian topics

Kreyolicious Interview: B. Notes , Singer-Songwriter and Actor

BNotes Music 1
The artist-actor and songwriter known as B. Notes is foremost a businessman. He’s the founder of Camilien Music Group, his own music publishing company. Ever heard of artists like Kanye West, Trey Songz, Lil Wayne, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Derulo, and Taylor Swift? Well, he’s worked with the producers on tracks for all of these artists. Born in Haiti, the now-artist and producer moved to Brooklyn when he was a pre-teen.

For his newly-released sixteen-track EP entitled This Isn’t For Everybody, he worked with a variety of producers in the New York area, including Soundwriter Music, JCanan, Downtown Music, DJ Shaw-T, Jcaspersen. The song “Laurie” rings so true you wonder if “Laurie” isn’t a real-life ex-girlfriend. The singer pleads, wishing for her comeback. But the lyrics state the ugly truth: she gave too many changes, and forgave too many transgressions. It was her time to go, and close the chapter and the book on the relationship forever. Produced by the c.u.b.s, and with producer-singer Elliot “Wolf Brown” providing background support, the track has all the emotions of a 1970s soul song, and all the earnestness of a Jodeci or Mint Condition track.

Produced by Diamond Style, “100K Miles” speak of finding fulfilling love at last. “Ride with Me” is a collaboration with producers Maskerade and Beats Hooks. B.Notes’ vocals seem to have been influenced by John Legend and Akon. Written by B.Notes, as is practically is the case with all of B.Notes songs, this track has the narrator as the victim. Payback for “Laurie”, maybe?

So, how did he get to where he is? Let’s get to the bottom of the story of B.Notes.

Kreyolicious: Tell us about yourself.
Music is my first life. I used to be a barber. I studied premed, music and acting in college. I do work to address social and health inequalities. I’m the oldest of 5. I’m an uncle. An ordinary guy with a goal to surpass expectations. Growing up in the hood was crazy, especially coming from a different culture and now in a whole new world, not being able to speak English. So you get picked on you know. It sometimes felt like survival of the fittest. [Laughter] I got into trouble here and there but music was always my escape or at least a way to deal with the weight of the world. As a singer and rapper, I make R&B, soul, trap, hiphop and pop music but as a songwriter, I write for artists from all genres; country, gospel, kompa, reggae to EDM. I’ve been blessed to work with various talented musicians from the up-and-comings to the Grammy winners. I’ve had a few big placements so far, but I’m grinding to one day win a Grammy myself. [Laughter]

B. Notes Music`

Kreyolicious: A great aspiration to have. Who gave you the name B. Notes?
It was very hard to get a stage name that I was comfortable with. It took me a while to come up with B. Notes, but the process was enjoyable. The “B” is for my birth name “Brignel”, and “Notes” is for the fact that music is made of notes, and music is in my DNA.

Kreyolicious: Why do you think you are drawn to music?
Coming from a place that has extreme poverty, music was one of the best coping mechanisms around. You feel the drums in your heart and the notes in your soul. On top of the poverty, I was somewhat of a lone child. My father traveled to America before I had a chance to meet or remember him and my mother was a go-getter. She had no choice since she was the sole provider. She had a second child, but he passed away about a year after birth. Following his death was my mother’s own passing. So my childhood was something like a nightmare I wish I could wake up from. My family didn’t have the money to buy me toys and there were few recreational activities, so I liked building stuff and since my uncle used to play the guitar and build percussion for the local church, I started helping him. Eventually I learned to play them. My family told me that I used to always move to music and sing when I was a baby. My aunt Antoinette sent me a radio and I used to act like I was a real DJ. [Laughter] Going around with my shades on, playing music. You couldn’t tell me nothing. [Laughter] I was about four or five years old, I think. I knew I wanted to do music for the rest of my life, I just didn’t know how to make that happen. When I came to America, I fell in love with R&B, hip hop, gospel and soul music. But I first had to learn English in order to sing and write the English songs. I used to always sing in church. Dealing with the challenges in the hood required an escape and music and my faith was that for me. Honestly, my reason for learning English was more so that I can sing and write in English. [Laughter] Not really because I wanted to do well in school. When I realized that I was good at making music, my passion only got stronger and I wanted to become a professional, making a living doing it so that I can take care of my family, friends and others in need, especially the people I left back in Haiti.

Kreyolicious: Is the music scene in your hometown pretty exciting?
Absolutely, but it also depends on the type of music you’re making or you’re into. But generally, yes. Brooklyn is one of the most exciting places in the world.

Kreyolicious: What are you working on right now?
[Besides the] released of my new mixtape This is Not for Everybody, I’m working on the TV show and some promo tours. Just staying busy.
BNotes Music

Kreyolicious: What advice would you give to up-and-coming artists? There are so many things I want to share but for the interest of time, I will hit a few of the main points here.
I would say learn the business, work on your craft and be the best you. I used to think if I didn’t sound like my favorite artists, I wasn’t good enough and I think that’s something a lot of upcoming musicians struggle with. But after analyzing the business and the many talented musicians out there, I realized the one thing that they all have in common is that they are the best version of themselves. What I mean is, don’t be afraid to explore your craft and musical abilities but don’t focus so much on trying to sing like Beyonce or rap like Kendrick Lamar or Kanye when your natural voice or flow is more like Drake, Rihanna or Adele. Basically, they are all very talented musicians with great voices, flow and image but at the same time they are all different. No matter how you sound or flow, perfect that and tell your truth, people will listen. The world has billions of people and you just need to connect with those that share your experiences or those your truth resonates with. I myself am still growing everyday and I’ve learned so much over the years from the bad to the great experiences, I can go on for days.

I feel that learning the business is key to having a successful music career. Also, unless you already have an invested inside connect with a big label or have a good buzz on the streets, your precious time will be better spent building your brand as opposed to chasing the labels. Because at the end of the day, it’s mostly about the money to them and they are more likely to choose a person that have more followings and a bigger buzz than a talented musician without those numbers. Because that’s a safer investment, numbers wise. It’s business. So, use the internet to help build your buzz. Get a team. It’s very hard and almost impossible to build a successful brand alone. Once you get enough buzz and traction, the labels will come to you and at that point you may not even need them. Also, humility goes a long way. Don’t let ego stiffen your growth. Use the power of networking. Invest in your music. The closer you get to achieving your dreams, the more hate and negative energy will come your way, but don’t give up or lose focus. Use the negative energy and hate to fuel your drive. Pray. Don’t get discouraged. Every mansion was build starting with one brick. So, don’t ever feel that you can’t do it because you can. Make this year your best year so far.


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How One Entrepreneur Is Promoting Haitian-American Businesses On The Web

Haitian Businesses
Tech queen Sandra Pierre is the entrepreneur behind the website Haitian Businesses/Haitian-Businesses.com. In less than two years, she’s amassed over 35,000 followers on Instagram alone, and has about 5,000 combined followers on Twitter and Facebook.

While her entire tech movement is built around promoting and connecting businesses, it isn’t all corporate with her. She doesn’t neglect the cultural aspects of her roots and never ceases to share the creative aspects of the businesses she promotes. Whether attending a Haitian cultural event, or hobnobbing with Haitian entrepreneurs at social and business events, the founder of Haitian-Businesses never loses sight of the social aspect of her business.

Kreyolicious: Tell us about yourself, and how you came to be interested in tech.
I am a native of Cap-Haitien, Haiti. I accompanied my family in 1996 to the United States at a young age. Upon my arrival in the States, I felt the need to stay connected with her homeland…Haiti. However, I immediately shifted my focus on my education. Though faced with challenges of an unfamiliar environment and new culture, I continued with the pursuit of my dreams by completing high school and later studied Business Administration at Lynn University. My daily motivation are embedded in the sacrifices by hardworking parents who worked tirelessly for me to have a better future. The motivation didn’t come without the strength which I found in God and those whom I cherish. During high school, I obtained a job with one of the country’s leading electronics retailer. After many years as an employee there, it became second nature to me to spark an interest in the forever evolving world of technology.
Haitian Businesses
Above: The entrepreneur at an event sponsored by the many Haitian businesses she supports daily.

Kreyolicious: How did you come up with the concept for Haitian-Businesses?
As I moved on in life, the need to serve my community was burning up in me. The deep connection I felt with Haiti’s culture and its people led me to what I am doing today. I felt a strong obligation to remain attached to the Haitian culture–even more so while leaving outside of the country. As a professional, I spent many years serving in local government. I grew tired of hearing the comment, “The Haitian community does not support our own businesses”. In late 2013, after noticing a lack of connectivity between Haitian-owned businesses professionals in the Haitian community, I started a movement to promote Haitian-owned businesses in March 2014. The connection made with businesses and potential clients through my page has proven that if we stay connected and expose each other, the myth that we do not support each other’s businesses will be laid to rest. I feel like I am still in the beginning stages of this monumental movement. I nonetheless believe in [it due to] the positivity I’ve seen so far. Today Haitian-Businesses.com is extensively popular in the Haitian Community as a bridge to connect, to promote and to support Haitian businesses. The work has just began for me, and I am ready to continue the effort to benefit the Haitian community around the world.
Haitian Businesses Sandra Pierre with Jerry Tardieu
Above: With Jerry Tardieu, the Haitian entrepreneur behind Royal Oasis, one of Haiti’s five-star hotels.

Kreyolicious: Do you run across some challenges in operating your website?
When tackling something new like I am with Haitian Businesses, LLC, obstacles are likely to happen. It is much more than operating a website. The website is one of the platforms used to showcase the movement. As I face obstacles—such as stepping out and doing something that has never been done before by an individual…through the process, it becomes a learning experience for me. I accept the challenges and face them with an open [mind] because they help me grow—not only as a person—but as a business woman as well.

Kreyolicious: When did you realize that the Haitian Businesses brand was catching on?
Six months into the movement a major hotel in Port-au-Prince Haiti emailed me for help and I was in shock. The hotel owner reached out personally since he needed a shipping company to transport a few large items from the Atlanta to Haiti. I was able to refer him to a shipping company for assistance. Since then, I’ve been running a referral program with the businesses listed on the Haitian Businesses Directory. I constantly receive requests [from] potential clients or other business owners looking for another service. [These are the] moments that mark me. It was when I realized my work was having a positive impact on the community.
Haitian Businesses Sandra Pierre

Above: Sandra of Haitian Businesses, LLC honored with a plaque for her work by Joanne Milfort Board member of the Haitian American Chamber of Florida and Miami Consul Guy Francois Jr.

Kreyolicious: What would you say to someone who wants to start a website that targets the Haitian-American community?
We have a large majority of our community who still does not show an interest in technology. As for me who’s in the business marketing field, getting involved and consistently expanding my knowledge is quite beneficial. There are two things that I would definitely suggest for anyone with interest of setting up a movement, organization or website in support of the Haitian community. My first suggestion would be to stay in touch with the community in order to be familiar with their needs. Secondly, to remain well-informed, knowledgeable of the content needed to be resourceful to the community.

Kreyolicious: What gives you the biggest satisfaction as the owner of Haitian Businesses?
I am absolutely thrilled to have feedback from those who have used my services or who those who simply appreciate the message behind the movement. I often receive testimonial notes via email or private messages which are a great source of motivation. To me, it’s tangible proof of the work being done and an inspiration to keep moving forward. It is also satisfying to know when we as a community stands together to support each other or specifically their business, we help support a dream. When we support a Haitian owned business we strengthen our community, our people and ultimately our beloved Haiti Cherie.

Kreyolicious: What’s next for your brand?
My main goal since I initiated this movement has been to connect, promote and support Haitian businesses. In the past two years, I have hosted networking events, created social media campaigns, promotional ads and referral programs. All of these are done to give the businesses more exposure. I’m eager to continuously use my platform and my voice to assist my community. I am currently working on a few projects that will extend the mission of Haitian businesses throughout the community. Each day, I anticipate [making] a difference in my community and being a positive voice for my people.

[Photo Credit: Main photo, Roe Michel; All others furnished by the subject.]


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