RAM and Dance Group Celebrate Fet Gede Show in Miami | PICTURES
MIAMI — From permanent residence to Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince, RAM has been a staple of the Haitian rasin cultural scene, at home and abroad, for decades. In 2019, the roots music group performed their last show in Haiti, then turned to virtual vacations during the pandemic. About a year ago, the band started performing in person in the United States.
This year, the group was delighted to celebrate Fet Gede — the holiday of Haiti feast in honor of the ancestors – he had been performing since the 1990s in person, back in Haiti. But in early October, said the group’s founder, Richard Augustine Morse, the group found itself setting up a new base in New Orleans.
“The generators and the amount of electricity provided by the government will not support rehearsals,” Morse said, in a phone interview from New Orleans. “That’s really why we had to go out.”
This last Saturday evening, RAM kicked off its annual gede celebrations at the Miami Beach Bandshell instead. With featured music from DJ Krazy Mix and an opening fixed by NSL Dance Togetherthe event drew hundreds, mostly Haitians.
Morse, 66, said they were looking forward to performing in Haiti for the first time since the pandemic, but with the country blockages, the five shows scheduled for Haiti in November have been canceled. Even if the band could have managed to get together to practice at the Oloffson, which Morse has managed all these years, there wouldn’t be enough gas for rehearsals.
These daily challenges have an impact.
“[In Haiti] People are hurting, people are getting killed, journalists are getting killed,” Morse said. “You don’t hear about all of them, guess it’s worse than you think. I try to focus on music just because it’s important to people.
Morse, who grew up in Connecticut with an American mother and a Haitian father, said RAM’s performances — consisting mostly of traditional songs — serve as a bridge for people who might not otherwise have access to the ceremonies.
“People who don’t have access to the ceremonies can have access to the chants and can get to know each other and the meaning of the chants,” he said. “The songs reflect modern times, so that gives them their strength, their ability to adapt to new situations.”
“The best part is when it feels like new again,” he added.
Alongside Morse are his wife Lunise, the band’s lead singer, their daughter Isabelle and their eldest son William, who plays guitar in the 11-member band.
Although not in their original base, it may be different now, Morse said, the group’s purpose and the enjoyment it brings to audiences remains the same.
“People go there and laugh, at Gede they swear, it’s sexual, they talk about sex parts so it’s funny,” Morse said. “Cultural identity is important. As the world blends in, it’s good to know where your roots are.