by Berwick Augustin
“A day without art is a body without a heart. A day without artists is like Jesus without the sacrifice.” Every time I’m in a studio recording, it feels like an out of body experience; having Harold St. Louis as a mastermind producer on a track is the icing on the cake. I believe my work is an eclectic collision of spirituality and cultural identity, I just happen to get caught in the crossfire of God being creative with His great commission.
The spoken word single, Dearly Departed, entails the totality of my journey so far on planet earth. In 2001, I lost a childhood friend who was only 25 years old. The tragedy forced me to find my identity as a Christian and a man of African descent with Haitian roots. By 2006, through writing and research, I learned more in five years than my entire “educated” career that included a Masters degree.
“Make the ancestors rise in your bones..intertwine the slave songs of yester-years to today’s contemporary tunes of diversity.” As a product of the American school system since the age of ten, it was disheartening to me once I started learning so much about African History after college. This track is part of my brain dump of knowledge to the world as “I borrow the tongue of James Baldwin to announce that artists are here to disturb the peace.” I mention musical greats like Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, and Duke Ellington, who showcased how to geniusly composed art. Empowering men of Haitian descent like W.E.B. Dubois who founded the NAACP and Jean-Baptiste Pointe Du Sable who discovered Chicago and “Stamped culture in Chi-town.”
Losing a loved one is “pain and hurt that feel like a curse in the worst state.” The second half of the track deals with how I perceive the world as a foreign environment full of pain. During my stage of mourning, I questioned everything that existed, including my faith in God. Ultimately, “I found therapy in my pen” and realized that “sorrows are fibers for muscle.” Like Thomas Dorsey, the more I allowed the word of God to dig into my soul, the more I began to unearth that spoken word poetry is my sacrifice of praise.
Most of us grapple with the reality that often times, death birth life. Dearly Departed is a personal journey that brutally and constantly reminds me that life is about dying to survive. For those who have gone before us, “their absences have left us broken hearted, but their purposes on this earth keep us inspired.”
Dearly Departed is available on Spotify, Itunes, Apple Music, Tidal, and Deezer.
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