When one thinks about Haiti's Music History, and pioneers who really have gave Haiti a true unique musical identity. The first name that comes in mind is Lumane Casimir.
Lumane Casimir was born in 1920, in a very small town in Gonaives. Not much is known about Lumane Casimir's early age. Her known history began at the age of 13, when a pianist discovered her talents, and encouraged her to pursue music. At the age of only 14, Lumane left Gonaives, moved to Port-au-Prince with nothing but a guitar, questing her dreams. It was her first time ever in a new city. A new city where she had absolutely no friends nor family members. Port-au-Prince, the Capital of the Country with the highest annual tourist visits in the Caribbean, was full with opportunities. Haiti led the Caribbean Tourism at the time. 302.000 tourists from all over the world visited Haiti on the summer of 1970. ( 139.000 by air, 163.000 by sea) But It didn't take Lumane too long to realize that life in Port-au-Prince, was not as easy for a teenager as she initially had thought it would. She began her singing career, in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Singing for money to survive.
Many, like the aforementioned pianist, immediately took notice of her incredible talent and her upsetting, yet charming voice.
Before she knew it, she was singing with some of the most famous bands in neighborhoods around the capital and some well known national ones. Bands such as The Legba Choir, a folk group; The National Folkloric Troop, Le Jazz des Jeunes, one of the most famous band at the time, and so many more respected artists.
A singer with a striking talent like Lumane Casimir never takes long to get noticed.
Lumane Casimir established herself as a true diva, representing very well the title "Emperatrice of Haitian Music" that will be conferred to her decades after her death, when she was chosen as the honorary singer to sing at the Country's 145th years Independence Celebration, in 1949, in front of thousands of spectators from all over Haiti and the world.
Many dignitaries of many different countries, and tourists from all over the world were at
Champ-De-Mars enjoying the ambiance; the grandiosity of this celebration. Lumane Casimir charmed every one with her voice, her presence and with the elegance of the poetic and patriotic lyrics of her songs. Prominent magazines such as Newsweek, called her "The Queen of the Meringues" Meringue in general, not just Haitian Meringue.
In 1951, Lumane Casimir mysteriously withdrew herself completely from the public's eyes, at the height of her career. Never to sing again. Leaving many, shocked. She went on to live in a tiny room in Port-au-Prince in poverty until she died a couple of years later, 1955, at the age of only 35.
Many believe that because of her quick risen fame, she battled with alcohol abuse, and just abandoned her career to drink. But this is just speculation. The true cause of Lumane Casimir sudden disappearance and ultimate death, was tuberculosis. The illness was so severe that she could no longer sing, or even be in public. A couple of years after her death the once famous artist Lumane Casimir, became barely a memory in the Country. The only 2 available pictures of Lumane Casimir are: The one posted above and a Haitian Government own one; which might have been destroyed after The Earthquake.
Lumane Casimir repertoire includes some of the most well known patriotic and cultural songs of Haiti. Such as:
"Panama mwen Tonbe, Caroline Acau, La Rivyè Mwen Te ye,
Lumane Pa Bel Fanm, Papa Gede Bèl Gason"
Lumane Casimir wrote almost all of her songs. The deep love she had for Haiti and her own Haitian style music was truly mesmerizing. Nowadays it is extremely rare to find copies of Lumane Casimir work. Her musics are mostly collected by lover and connoisseurs of classical Haitian Music. Carole Demesmin, another Haitian Musical Legend, became the first artist, to take her hat off to Lumane Casimir, saluting her talents and the role she played in the country's culture. Many follows, a couple of years later, as more of her work were being discovered.
Lumane Casimir is the greatest Haitian singer ever Lived. Her courage is inspirational and that of a true Hero. It took us way too long to bow and recognize Lumane Casimir as an Artist of marvelous talent. Let's hope that more will absolutely be done at the national level, to formally recognize the greatness of the Emperatrice Of Haitian Music.
We, here at Hougansydney.com, are willing to make monetary contribution(s), to any legitimate group or organization, working or planning on restoring Lumane Casimir's musics and pictures. .