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Interview of Emerante De Pradines by Watson Denis Transcribed and translated by Myrlande Denis and Benjamin Hebblethwaite Edited by Liesl B. Picard and Benjamin Hebblethwaite Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University Watson: N ap di bonswa oubyen bonjou. Sa depann de a ki l moun yo ap koute nou. Mwen menm mwen se Watson Denis. Mwen se istoryen, mwen pwofes lan linivsite d Eta d Ayiti. Men, deplizanpli mwen enterese avk antropoloji, mwen enterese avk kesyon lakilti. Jodi a nou gen yon plezi, yon grap plezi, anpil plezi pou nou resevwa yon atis entnasyonal S e yon ayisyn ki f non li nan kesyon dans, nan kesyon chante. Li rele Emerante De Pradines. N ap gen yon entvyou avk li sou karye li, sou vi li, vi li km atis. M p ap pale plis, se li menm ki ka pral di nou kman vi li prezante km atis, km chant. Bonjou, Emerante De Pradines. Emerante De Pradines: Bonjou Msye Watson. Watson: Nou chita asw a, oubyen aprmidi a nan yon bl kay. Nou nan otl Olofsn, Ayiti. Se youn nan otl istorik ki genyen nan vil Ptoprens. Moun ki poko vin ann Ayiti, moun tou ki vin Ayiti ki poko desann nan otl Olofsn, mwen envite yo pou vin nan otl sa. Mwen vle di se plezi mwen genyen pou nou chita la, pou nou koze ak atis, Emeran te De Pradines. Emerante, premye bagay mwen ta renmen nou f, pou moun ki pa konnen w, menm pou moun ki konnen w ki ta bezwen konnen ti detay, mwen ta bezwen w pale de ou, kiys ou ye Kiys ki Emerante De Pradines? Emerante: Enbyen, Emerante De Pradines se pitit Kandy, se te non atis li. Li te rele August De Pradines. Donk, mwen memn mwen se Emerante De Pradines. Mwen te marye avk yon mesye ki te rele Ms. Gen de l mwen di li, gen de l m mete non l, men gen de l m pa mete non l, tout tan. Paske f m di ou kisa ki laverite m wen se yon moun ki toujou renmen non m. M renmen non m. Watson: Non manman w ak papa w te bay ou? Emerante: Non manman papa m te ban mwen, mwen renmen l anpil. Donk, af atis la m pa kw Watson: Good evening or good morning. This depends on when the people are watching us. M y name is Watson Denis. Im an historian; Im a professor at the State U niversity of Haiti. But, recently Ive been interested in anthropology; Im interested in questions concerning culture. Today, we have the pleasure, the great pleasure to receive an international artist. Shes a Haitian who made her name in the dance realm, in singing. Her name is Eme rante De Pradines. Well interview her about her career, her life, her life as an artist. I wont say more, shes the one whos going to tell you about her life as an artist, as a singer. Good morning, Emerante De Pradines. Emerante De Pradines: Good morning Mr. Watson. Watson: T his evening, rather this afternoon, we sit in a beautifu l house. We are at the H otel Oloffson in Haiti. Its one of the histor ic hotels in the city of Port Au Prince. People who havent been to Haiti, and also people whove been to Haiti but who havent been to the Hotel Oloffson I invite you to come to this h otel. I want to say that its a pleasure for us to be here and chat w ith the artist, Emerante De Pradines Emerante, the first thing I would like for to do, for those who dont know you, and even for those who do know you but would like to know more, I would like you to talk about yourself, who you are. Who is Emerante De Pradines? Emerante: Well, Emerante De Pradines is the child of Kandy, which was his artistic name. His name was August De Pradines. Well, my name is Emerante De Pradines. I was married to a man named Ms. Sometimes I say it, sometimes I put his name; sometimes I dont put his name. Bec ause I have to tell you the truth, Im someone whos always loved my name. I love my name. Watson: The name your mother and father gave you? Emerante: The name my mothers father gave me, I really love it. Well, about being an artist, I dont
se yon bagay moun chwazi. Se bagay, se ar la menm ki chwazi w, paske l ou se yon atis, ou ft konsa. Watson: Oke. Emerante: Ou gen yon lt konptman. Ou gen yon konptman ke lt moun pa genyen e ou toujou gen tandans f sa w vle e sa w pito, e sa w renmen e jan w renmen l. Donk, se konsa Watson: Se kmsi ar l ap mennen w? Emerante: Ap mennen w. Se ar la ki mennen nou se pa mwen ki mennen. Watson: Oke, men depi ki l ou kmanse vi atistik ou? Depi ki l ar la kmanse mennen w? Emerante: Enben depi m gen huit an, depi m gen konesans, m konnen. L m pa t ko gen konesans manman m te toujou di m, jou l te mennen m lekl, epi s la di m konsa, qu'est ce que tu sais faire? epi m di Je vais te montrer M ap montre w sa m kon f. E al mwen monte sou tab kote l t ap resevwa n lan epi mw en resite Fonfon a bien lu sa leon. Watson : Se te yon pwezi, se sa? Emerante: Se te yon pwezi k e timoun konnen, manman m te monte m. Donk, m resite l pou m a epi m a di konsa a, a, elle sera un petit rat dans lopra epi m kontan epi m grandi men vrman mwen menm, depi m ap kmanse ap resite pwezi nan asosyasyon nan tout kote, m te gen huit an. Watson: Oke. Emerante: Epi gen yon lt bagay ke m te konn f ki te pwouve ke m t ap vin konsa, sa ke chak tan gen vakans, mwen ganize yon ft teyatral ke pou ar timoun nan katye a Watson: Nan katye lakay ou? Emerante: Epi pou nou f l jou ft mwen. Watson: O oke. think its something someone chooses. Its something where the art chooses you, because when youre an artist, youre born that way. Watson: Okay. Emerante: You behave differently. You have behavior that other people dont have and you always have the tendency to do what you want and what you prefer and what you like and how you like it. Well, its like that Watson: Its as if the art is driving you? Emerante: I t s driving you. Its the art thats driving us; Im not the one driving. Watson: Okay, but when did you begin your artistic life? When did the art start driving you? Emerante: Well, since I was eight, since I was old enough to understand, I knew. Before I was old enough to know my mother always told me; the day she took me to school and the Sister said to me, what do you do? and I said Ill show you; Ill show you what I can do. Then I got up on the table where she was greeting us and I recited Fonfon a bien lu sa leon. Watson: It was a poem, right? Emerante: It was a poem that children know ; one that my mother taught me. Well, I recited it for the nun and the nun said ahh, she will be a little rat in the opera and I was happy and I grew up but truly ever since, I started reciting poetry ; in assoc iations all over; I was eight years old. Watson: Okay. Emerante: And there was something else I used to do that showed that I was going to be this way. I t was during every vacation that I organized a theatrical party that was for [ the art of ] children in the neighborhood Watson: In the neighborhood where you lived? Emerante: A nd for us to do it on my birthday. Watson: Oh okay.
Emerante: M te renmen fete ft mwen ki 24 septanm. Watson: Oke, dak. Emerante: Al m kontan f sa epi Watson: Nan ft sa, nou danse, nou chante, nou manje? Emerante: Nou chante, nou danse epi je te tr, m te yon ti jan gen odas, m pa p anyen, m pa p moun. M toujou ap mache, f tout sa m vle e si m w m yon kote, m renmen l, m bezwen sa pou m f yon ft, m al mande w kareman M di w ske m mt vin f ft lakay ou? donk, se konsa sa kmanse, m te tou piti. Epi yon lt bagay m vin f ank, l m te dwe gen douz an, m sonje Dominik Ipolit te ekri yon pys epi li vin ban m jwe wl la, l l ban wl la,m te kontan. P apa m kontan paske papa m di matant mwen ki yon s papa m, l i te kontan. Le baiser de lailleule pys la te rele. Epi Prezidan Vincent di m sonje ala la l te f, te jwe pys la. Yo di m ti le Pradine s sa k ap vini an li bon. M pral w kils ki f pi bon epi li f l, e apre sa... Watson: Men ske nou k ab di se apati de pys sa ou te jwe a ke karye ou kmanse de fason pwofesyonl? Emerante: Se sa, de fason pwofesyonnl Watson: Ki laj ou genyen l sa? Emerante: M te gen douz an. Watson: Douz an, oke. Emerante: Depi a douz an m konnen vrman m te yon moun ki ka jwe sou nenpt sn nenpt kote mwen vle. Watson: Men ou t al nan lekl ? Emerante: Ebyen f m di sa vr lekl mwen se te yon glas. M renmen gade m nan glas, ou konprann? Mwen aprann tout sa m f yo nan Emerante: I loved to celebrate my birthday which is September 24th. Watson: Okay, understood. Emerante: And I was happy to do this and Watson: At this party, you dance d you sang, you ate? Emerante: We sang, we danced and I was very I was a bit audacious, I wasnt scared of anything, I wasnt scared of people. I was always walking, doing what I wanted and if I saw a place and I like d it, I needed it to throw a party, Id promptly ask you. Id say can I come throw a party at your house? s o thats how that started, I was still little. And something else I used to do, when I was about twelve or so, I remember Dominique Hip polyte wrote a play and he gave me a role to play, when he gave me the role, I was happy. M y father was happy because my father told my aunt whose one of my fathers sisters, he was happy. The play was called Le baiser de lailleule And President Vincent said I remember they put on the play here. They te ll me the little Pradines thats coming is good. Im going to see whos better and he did that, and after that Watson: But can we say that your professional career started from this play that you act e d in ? Emerante: Thats right, in a professional manner Watson: How old were you at this time? Emerante: I was twelve. Watson: Twelve years old, okay. Emerante: S ince I was twelve, I truly knew I was someone who could play any on any stage anywhere I wanted. Watson: But you went to school ? Emerante: Well I have to say that my true school was a mirror. I loved to look at myself in the mirror, you understand? I learned all the things I do
glas, jiskaske yon jou l m vini, l P rezidan Vincent w ke jan m jwe pys la, li twouve m te jwe l byen, li twouve ke pett m pa te dwe rete kay m yo, m te dwe ale nan lekl nmal ki te dirije pa yon fransz Al m te genyen, yon lekl ki te pli ouv donk, m vini, m ale anks de lekl nmal, paske lekl nmal la, l a m pa t ko gen laj pou m ale ladan. Donk, m ale nan anks la epi m toujou ap w, kontinye f teyat, kontinye etidye epi etidye lakay avk papa m, avk  sa ke m renmen, sa ke m ap f. E depi l a f m di w sa k la verite, kou yon moun gen yon pys, li pote l m ban mwen pou m f l. Sa m kontan, m toujou kontan sa. Watson: Men l sa, ou pa t jwe pou kb? Emerante: Non. Watson: Se pa pou kb? Se pou plezi? Emerante: Se pa te pou kb, se te pou plezi ou f. Ou al nan seyans ou f l, ou chante. M kwe premye fwa m di w m touche kb, m te touche 6 dola. 6 dola yo ban mwen paske m t al jwe nan yon revi te gen yon tan yo te f anpil revi ann Ayi ti. Watson: Oke. Emerante: Yo pa f sa ank. Watson: Revi a se li kisa? Emerante: Revi a se li kisa se ke moun lan pran de moun, li mete l kanpe epi l kanpe tout lt moun ke moun kapab rekont, ou konprann? Yon moun ki gen yon talan, yon moun ki gen yon tik, yon moun ki kapab f yon bagay, yon moun fou, yon atis, yon lt atis. Watson : Yon st de konpetisyon, yon talent show? Emerante: Se sa, talent show se le mot. Al yo pase nan revi, li toujou gen anpil moun, e li toujou gen anpil siks donk m pase, m jwe ladan yo, m toujou kontan. in a mirror, until one day when I came, when President Vincent saw how I played in the play, he saw that I played my part well; he thought that I shouldnt stay at the nu ns house, I should go to a high school that was directed by a F renchman. So I had a school; a sch ool that was more open, so I went. I went to the annex of the high school, because the high school, at the time I wasnt old enough to attend it. So, I went to the annex and I continued to see, continued to do theatre, continued to study and study at the house with my father, with  whic h I loved, what I was doing. And since that time I have to tell you honestly, when someone had a play theyd bring it to me so I could do it. I was happy for that, I w a s always happy for that. Watson: B ut at that time, you didnt act in plays for money? Emerante: No. Watson: It wasnt for money? It was for fun? Emerante: It wasnt for money, I did it for fun. You go to the session, you do it, you sing. I think the first time I got paid, I got paid 6 dollars. They gave me 6 dollars because I played at a review; there w a s a time when they had a lot of review s in Haiti. Watson: Okay. Emerante: They do nt do this anymore. Watson: What exactly is a review? Emerante: The review is where the person takes two people; they stand them next to other people that the public can recognize. S ome one who has talent, someone who has a trick someone who can do some thing, someone crazy, an artist, another artist. Watson: A kind of competition, a talent show? Emerante: Thats it, talent show is the word. So they would go to reviews, there was always a lot of people, and it always had a lot of success so I would go, Id compete, I was always happy.
Watson: Pandan w ap pale la ou f mosyon de Prezidan Lesko, kman w gen aks ak prezidan Lesko? Emerante: Non, Prezidan Vincent. Watson: Wi, Prezidan Vincent. Kman ou te aks li? Emerante: Enbyen Prezidan Vincent se t on zanmi papa m lontan. M pa konn kijan men li te zanmi fanmi an. Li te toujou lakay, li te toujou dab l l vin prezidan, li voye chche youn nan ti kouzin mwen yo ki te sekret l, konprann pitit s papa m. Donk nou te gen anpil relasyon, relasyon de fanmi. Watson: L ke ou kmanse vi pwofesyonl ou, ske w gen yon bagay anvan w jwe, ou f? ske gen yon bagay ki enspire w? Pou w kapab mye w sou sn nan? Emerante: Sl bagay ke m konnen ki te, ke m f tout tan se ke jou m pral jwe a, m pa renmen pal a moun. Watson: Wi, pou w kapab konsantre sou sa w pral f a? Emerante: M pa konn si se pou m konsantre nan sa m pral f a, men m pa nan kominikasyon e l m vin pi gran, l m vini vrman pwofesyonl, moun envite m, m pa renmen yon moun envite m pou m nan ni nan bw, manje tout bagay sa yo, se pou m mwen menm rete pou k mwen jiskaske m al monte sou sn nan, m pa al nan kominikasyon ak moun. Watson: Dak. Emerante: M te toujou f sa. Se sa sa se te mwen. Okipe de rad mwen, okipe de sa m pral mete. Sa toujou konsne m. Yon ti rg: moun nan ki ban m pys la pa bezwen gen pou l kaporal av l, m gen ide pa m. Watson: Wi se sa. Ou antre nan psonaj la? Emerante: Se sa, antre nan psonaj la, mwen konn Watson: While you were talking you mentioned Preside nt Lescot how did you gain access to President Lescot ? Emerante: No, President Vincent. Watson: Yes, President Vincent. How did you reach him? Emerante: Well President Vincent was a longtime friend of my fathers. I dont know how but he was a family friend. He was always at the house, he was always When he first became president, he sent for one of my cousins who was his secretary, my fathers sisters child So we were closely related, through family. Watson: When you started your professional lif e, did you have something you did before you acted ? Did you have something that inspired you? So you could better yourself on the stage? Emerante: The one thing I know I always did, was that on a day that I was going to do a play, I didnt like talking to people. Watson: Yes, so you could concentrate on what you were going to do? Emerante: I didnt know if it was to concentrate on what I was going to do, but I didnt talk and when I got older, when I truly became a professional, people invited me [out]. I didnt like it when someone invite d me [out] and I was drinking, eating all of these things. I had to keep to myself up until the moment when I went up on s tage. I didnt talk to people. Watson: I understand. Emerante: I always did that. That was me. Preoccupied with my clothes; pre occupied with what I was going to wear. That always concerned me. A little rule: the person that gave me the play didnt need to be bossy about it, I had my own ideas. Watson: Yes, thats it. You went into character? Emerante: Thats it, I went into character. I knew
kisa m pral mete, kisa m pral w e kijan m pral gen piblik la. E gen yon lt bagay ank ki te nan mwen menm, se ke depi kou m montre sou sn nan,twa minit p ap pase epi m santi piblik la av m. Watson: Oke. Emerante: Koprann? M santi m ap f sa m vl e av l  al se do pett ar la. Ou sonje m te di w ar la se li k mennen m? Donk, se li k ap mennen m kote m prale a. M pa mwen menm ank. Jiskaske m fini se sa m santi. Watson: Dako. Ou menm km atis, ou te jwe pys teyat? Emerante: Wi. Watson: Ou danse, ou chante? Emerante: Wi. Watson. Se sa. Kisa ki te plis lakay ou? Kisa w te plis renmen? Ou te f tout ansanm? Konman sa te ye? Emerante: M f tout ansamn. M renmen tout ansanm M renmen teyat la anpil anpil m en l m vin ale Ozetazini, kote m epanouyi, m marye yon pakt bagay, mwen vin on ti jan sf konsyans. Watson: Oke. Emerante: M konnen ke kou m ap pale moun pral di m, kote w soti?, al sa, m pa t renmen l, m abandone teyat la akz de sa e pi m tonbe nan danse a, ak nan chante a. Al sa m se a m toujou chante chanson ayisyn. Watson: Chante flklrik Emerante: Chante peyi m se li m chante, se li m f e m te toujou konnen tou, si m ap chante, si m chante yon chanson ou konnen kisa m ap f paske m f w konnen kisa m ap f. Watson: Donk, ou toujou chante? Kounya ou chante toujou? what I was going to wear, what I was going to see and how I was going to capture the audience. And the re was something else about me, once I got on the stage, three minutes didnt pass before I felt the audience was with me. Watson: Okay. Emerante: Understand? I felt like I was doing what I wanted with it  so it must have been the art. Remember I told you it was the art that drove me? Thus, its what took me where I was going. I wasnt myself anymore. Up until I was finished, thats what I felt. Watson: Understood. You as an artist you acted in plays? Emerante: Yes. Watson: You danced, you sang? Emerante: Yes. Watson: Thats it W here did you feel more at home? What did you like the most? Did you do all of them together? How was that? Emerante: I did all of them together. I like all of them togethe r. I really really loved theater but when I cam e to the Uni ted States, where I blossomed, I wove together many things; I became a bit self concious. Watson: Okay. Emerante: I knew once I started talking people would say, where are you from? so I didn t like this, I abandoned theater because of this and I fell into dance singing, s o, who I was I always sang Haitia n songs. Watson: Folklore songs. Emerante: My countrys songs are what I sang; thats what I did and what I always knew too, if I was singing a song, you knew what I was doing because I made you know what I was doing. Watson: So, do you still sing? You still sing today?
Emerante: Non, kounya m pa chante toujou. M pa gen vwa. Watson: Ou pa gen vwa ank. Emerante: M pa gen vwa ank, m pa chante. Paske m te toujou di, m te w de moun ke m te renmen anpil. M te konn w yo jwe sou teyat, danse, f teyat epi m konnen yo jn. Yo do te gen 30, 40 an l mwen menm mwen vin konnen yo. Epi l yo vin gen 60 an, 70 an m di mwen, m p ap kite sa rive m, m ap soti ladan avan travay sa l moun kontan w m ap f l. Ou pran plezi pou w gade l, ou kontan sa m ap f a. Men pa pou w p pou mwen pou m pa kraze, kw m pa sa monte bagay la, m ap chche kenbe. Men m pa renmen sa. Donk mwen soti dab depi l m tounen an Ayiti, m remake ke mwen gen alji ak pousy ak tout bagay k ap pase ki pa bon nan peyi a. Donk, m pa chante paske m pa dwe chante apouvwa m pa dwe chante, ou konprann? Donk m toujou kite sa, men m toujou renmen l menm jan m te renmen l l m te timoun. Watson: Dak. Men kou pou moun ki pa janm tande w chante, pou moun ki pa janm tande w chante, ou te ka chante yon ti chanson pou nou? Emerante: Non, m pa ka f sa, M p ap chante. Km mwen gen plak. Watson: Oke. Emerante: Mwen genyen bagay ou sa tande vwa a. Do nk pa egzanp nan otl la m kw genyen vwa m, Gen vwa m la. Donk si Richa vle la jwe l pou nou, men mwen, m p ap chante, m p ap f sa. Watson: Enbyen, men ki pi gwo souvni w ou genyen km atis? Yon bagay ki make vi w km atis. Emerante: M te jwe yon py s de Roger Dorsainville ki te rele Watson: Bary ? Emerante: Bary L m jwe Bary nan ane karant. Emerante: No, I dont sing anymore. I dont have the voice. Watson: You dont have the voice anymore. Emerante: I dont have the voice anymore, I dont sing. Because I always said, I saw two people who I liked a lot. I saw them act in theater dance, do theater and I knew they were young. They must have been about 30 or 40 when I got to know them. And when they becam e around 60 or 70, I said to myself, Im not going to let that happen to me, Im leaving this work when people are still happy to see me do it. You take pleasure in watching it, [while] youre [still] happy with what Im doing. But not for you to be scared that youre go ing to fail; think ing that I can t climb the thing and Im [still] reaching to hold on. I didnt like this. So I left, at first I returned to Haiti, I noticed that I had an allergy to the dust and all the other bad things that were going on in the country. So I didnt sing because I shouldnt sing you understand? So I left this, but I always loved it in the same way I loved it when I was a child. Watson: Understood, but for people who have never heard you sing, could you sing a little song for us? Emerante: No, I cant do this, I wont sing. T here are v inyl records. Watson: Okay. Emerante: I have things where you can hear my voice. For example in the hotel I think they have my voice there. So if Richa rd [Morse] wants, hell play it for you, but me, I wont sing, I wont do this. Watson: Well, what is the biggest souvenir you have as an artist? Something that marked your life as an artist? Emerante: I acted in a Roger Dorsainville play that was called Watson: Bary ? Emerante: Bary I played Bary in 1940.
Watson: S ou Lsko. Emerante: Lsko, enben m kw pys sa te f yon revolisyon. L m jwe Bary se te de fanmi. Yon fanmi nwa avk yon fanmi milat. Ou te konnen l? Watson: M konn li pys la. Emerante: Ou konn li pys la? Watson: M pot ko ft, m li pys la. Emerante: Ou li pys la, enben l nou jwe pys sa nou tout ki te nan pys la, bagay la te tlman reyl, part reyl ke sa se yon revolisyon. Yo pa t kite nou pran ti repo. Nou jwe l slman m kw yon fwa ou de fwa. Watson:  te fmen. Emerante: Se sa. Watson: Donk se gwo evnman nan lavi w km atis la? Emerante: Pi gwo evnman nan lavi m Watson: Ann Ayiti? Emerante: Ann Ayiti. Watson: E Lezetazini? Sa k make vi w km atis? Emerante: Ozetazini, sa k make vi m se yon jou yon moun mande m yon kote yo rele Oakdale yon summer resort ki rele Oakdale, yo mande m pou m al f, pou m chante la epi m chante epi m soti nan sn nan, li te byen lwen epi m avanse, m mache epi tout san m ape tresayi al sa te f yon gwo enpresyon sou mwen. Li apre m gen yon zanmi m ki di m m mt di w, jan w avanse ou pa te kankou yon moun non, ou mache kankou yon espri k ap travse, ki sot yon kote ap travese t a. Watson: Pett zili te av w l sa? Emerante: M pa konnen, se do sa, e do sa. Watson: Under Lescot Emerante: Lescot. Well I think the play was a revolution. When I played Bary there were two families. A black family and a mulatto family. Did you see it? Watson: I read the play Emerante: You read the p lay ? Watson: I wasnt born yet but I read the play Emerante: You read the play, well when we put on this play all of us who were in the play, it was so real, it seemed real that this was a revolution. They didnt let us rest. I t hink we only performed it once or twice. Watson:  closed. Emerante: Thats it. Watson: So this was a big event in your life as an artist? Emerante: The biggest even t in my life Watson: In Haiti? Emerante: In Haiti. Watson: And in The United States? What marked your life as an artist? Emerante: In The United States, what marked my life is one day someone invited me to a place they called Oakdale, a summer resort called Oakdale. T hey asked me to go and sing there and I sang and I came off the stage, it was really far and I went, I walked and I got chills so this made a big impression on me. It was after that I had a friend say to me I should tell you, the way you walked, you werent humanlike, you walked like a spirit that was crossing, that came from somewhere and w as crossing across the land Watson: Perhaps Erzulie was with you? Emerante: I don t know, she must ha ve been, it
M ap mande m si m te konn chante zili l sa? Watson: Non, ou pa te Emerante: Wi, m te konn chant zili men m pa t janm te chant zili ann Ayiti paske papa m te di m, m p ap chante zili toutotan l pa mouri. Watson: Oke. Emerante: Paske li menm, se li k te f chanson sa. Li ekri chante a li te gen 14 an. Donk, se te chante l li te ye. M pa t sa chante l. Watson: Ou pa t ka chante l, dak. Emerante: Epi se apr, m fin ap chante toupatou, al chante Vodouesk mwen yo epi sitou m renmen vokasyon yo, donk nan fin chante, nan chante chante sa m di m en papa m te di m l l mouri m ape chant zili, koulye a l mouri, m ap chant zili. Epi chante a vini chante m tou, epi nenpt ti kote m pase, m chante Watson: zili nan dlobagay konsa? Emerante: Men, e sa. Al sitou mwen menm l m chante l la, m vin f sn posesyon an. Al se km si m vin gen lwa a. Lwa monte m epi m pyafe m, m ponpe, m woule m, m danse epi m leve, epi m leve ank. M reprann chante a. Donk, m remake se pa t yon bagay Watson: Senp? Emerante: Se pa t yon bagay senp. Gen de bagay ou w, ou santi jan le pati a li pase. Watson: Wi, sa ki pase ? Emerante: E chak tan m tounen sa, menm timoun ki ap gade m ki lakay toujou te ahh m te w ou te gen lwa. Watson: Sa vle di ou konn gen lwa? Emerante: M pa kw. Watson: Ou pa kw ou konn gen lwa? must have been. I am asking myself if I used to sing [the song] Erzulie at that time? Watson: No you didnt Eme rante: Yes, I used to sing Erzulie but I never sang Erzulie in Haiti because my fath er told me I couldnt sing Erzulie until after he died. Watson: Okay. Emerante: Because he was the one who created that song He wrote the song when he was 14. So, it was his song. I couldnt sing it. Watson: You couldnt sing it, u nderstood. Emerante: And it was after. I ended up singing all over, my Vodouist songs and I especially liked their vocation. So, at the end of the song in singing the song I said but my father tol d me when he died Id sing Erzulie, so when he died, I sang Erzulie And then the song became my song too, and every little place I went, I sang it. Watson: Erzulie in the watersomething like that? Emerante: But thats it. S o, especially when I sang that song, I began doing the possession scene. So it was as if I came under the power of the lwa. The lwa took me and I stomped, I jumped, I rolled, I danced and I got up, and I got up again. I retook the song. So, I remarked it was nt something Watson: Simple? Emerante: It wasnt something simple. Some things you see you feel how the piece happened. Watson: Yes, what happened? Emerante: And everytime I became this way, even children who were watching who were at home would alw ays say ahh I saw that you had a lwa. Watson: That means you did perform under the power of the lwa? Emerante: I dont think so. Watson: You dont think you used to be under lwa?
Emerante: Men, y ap di m sa sou sn. Watson: Sa sou sen ? Emerante: Sa sou sen. Watson: Sa enteresan. Emerante: Men konsa m vin chante zili. Watson: Dak. Emerante: E al, yon lt bagay ank, f m di w kijan ke m vin f sa. M al gade yon seremoni epi l m soti nan seremoni an, mwen di psonn pa vle w bagay sa ann Ayiti. Psonn pa vle moun pa t konn gade sa lontan, yo pa te vle sa. Watson: Wi, wi. Emerante: Yo pa te vle sa nan peyi a. Enben mwen menm, apre m fin gade seremoni an, m di a bagay sa m ap mennen l lavil Epi se konsa m te gen yon tape recorder m pran l, m annik kmanse kopye chante epi m di, m ap mennen l lavil. Epi m ganize yon f t nan Rex epi m chante Vodou.  l m chante sa, psonn pa vle tande sa la, dnye moun Watson : se  yo fache. Emerante: Yo fache, yo pa kontan. Yo pa kontan. Watson: Yo pa kontan. Emerante: Men, kote l yo di w atis la, paske ou kontan m chante se tr byen m pa chante pou ou, m ap chante pou mwen. M chante pou mwen, m chante paske m renmen chante a, m w l, m renmen l, m pote l lavil, m vle denye moun konn chante, konn tande Vodou. Chante kisa m ap chche, m chwazi yo, m pran yo epi m pote yo, e pi m chante. Epi jis m tlman chante ke apre l yo w m, yo di m a ou f m tande bagay sa se ou k vle tande l, men mwen menm, mwen renmen l, mwen renmen l, mwen renmen l. E m renmen tout. Emerante: But, they told me that on the stage. Watson: That on stage? Emerante: That on stage. Watson: Thats interesting. Emerante: Bu t thats how I came to sing Erzulie Watson: Understood. Emerante: And so another thing also, I have to tell you how I came to do this. I went to watch a ceremony and when I left the ceremony, I said no one wants to see this in Haiti. No one wants to people didnt used to watch this long ago, they didnt want that. Watson: Yes, yes. Emerante: They didnt want that in the country. W ell me, after I watched the ceremony, I said Im bringing this to the city and I had a tape recorder, I took it, I started copying songs and I said Im bringing it to the city. And I organized a party in Rex and I sang Vodou.  when I sang this, no one wanted to hear it, every one Watson: Its  they were mad. Emerante: They were mad, they werent happy. They werent happy. Watson: They werent happy. Emerante: But, when they say youre an artist, if youre [audience] is happy with what I sing, thats great but I dont sing for you, I sing f or me. Im singing for myself, I sing because I like the song, I saw it, I liked it, I brought it to the city, I want everyone to know the song, to hear Vodou. The songs that I look for, I choose them, I take them and I bring them, and I sing. And I sing to the point that after theyve seen me, they say ahh, you made me listen to this, youre the one who wanted to listen to it, but me, I love it, I love it, and I love all of it.
Watson: Oke. Men nan peryd sa w ap chante Vodou, ou mennen Vodou a nan lavil, ou mennen l nan Rex la e nou nan peryd rejete nan lezane 1940 non? Emerante: Se sa, nou nan peryd rejete. Al peryd r ejete sa m sonje Dr. Maximilian tout moun sa yo, yo jete dnye bagay, gen bagay moun sere, gen bagay moun gade, yo pote lakay yo, men yo pa te vle sa. E al an fin rejete sa tou, si m timoun, paske l m ap di w sa m pa t gran non. L m ap di w sa. M gen Watson : 15 an, 16 an? Emerante: 14 an. M f sa apre manman m mouri. Si manman m te la m pa ta kab al nan Vodou, paske manman m te tr relijye, li pa te vle bagay sa. Men sa pwouve nou tou, se yon vr relijyon, paske malgre tout traka yo ba li, tout bagay yo f, li la. Li kenbe. Watson: E sa, e sa. Paske li antre nan lafanmi? Emerante: Li antre dan lafanmi. Tout timoun kouleya gen dwa f l. Denye moun ap danse Yanvalou. Dab, m gen yon zanmi m ki rele Florans, Gildrs Florans. Watson: Yon atis sou pent? Emerante: Sa, li pa penn non li se yon Watson: Ah antwopolg oke, m kw li ekri tou, non? Emerante: Li ekri. Li ekri li se yon mizikolg Watson: Mizikolg. Emerante: Epi li jwe mizik, li f mizik. Epi li di m konsa men w pa konnen tout moun li f yon konferans tou dnyman li di tout moun, tout Ayisyen te dwe konnen sa k rele yon Y anvalou, yon May i, yon Dahomen. Yo ft pou te konnen l paske si w pa f s a, ou pa Ayisyen. Tandi ke Ayisyen lontan p bagay sa. Watson: Okay, but in this per iod of time youre singing Vodou, you brought Vodou to the city, you brought it to the Rex and this was in the rejection period in the 1940s, no? Emerante: Thats it; we were in the rejection period. Thus this rejection period I remembered Dr. Maximilian all those people, they threw away everything, there were things people hid, there were things people saw, they brought to their houses, but they didnt want this. So, at the end of the rejection, I was a child because at the time I was Watson: 15, 16? Emerante: 14 years old. I did this after my mother died. If my mother was there, I couldnt have gone to Vodou [ceremonies] because my mother was very religious, she didnt want that. But that proves to us too that its a true religion because despite all the trouble they give it, all the things they did, its here. Its held on. Watson: Thats true, thats true. Because it enters through family? Emerante: It enters into family All the children now can do it. Everyone dances Yanvalou. Actually, I have a friend named Florans, Gildrs Florans. Watson: A painter? Emerante: Shes not a painter shes a Watson: Ahh, an anthropologist okay, I think she writes too, no? Emerante: She writes, shes a musicologist. Watson: Musicologist. Emerante: And she plays music, she makes music and she told me but you dont know everyone she had a conference recently and she said Everyone, every Haitien should know Yanvalou, Mayi, Dahomen [types of Vodou dances] They need to know because if they dont, theyre not Haitian. Meaning Haitians long ago were scared of this.
Watson: Wi, li p bagay sa. Se sa. Emerante: Yo te f nou p tou. Watson: Yo te f nou p. Non, mwen leve l yo f m p. Emerante: Yo f w p? Watson: Yo f m p, yo f m p. Emerante: Si w di moun sa yo pa sa kw, gen anpil moun ki kw denye moun ann Ayiti konn Vodou, non se pa vre. Tout moun pa konn Vodou. M pa konn koulyea si tout moun pa Watson: Gen plis liberasyon, sou ide, bagay konsa. Emerante: Vr. Watson: Mantalite a pi ouv. Emerante: Se sa. Watson: Men l w ap leve dan lezane 80 yo, yo f w p. Emerante: Yo f w p. Se sa. Watson: Vodou se dyab, lougawou Emerante: M pa bezwen pale w de lezane 40! Watson: Wi, anvan, se sa. Emerante: Oke. Watson: E men kisa ki defini w ou menm km atis? Apre plizy ane nan vi atis la, kisa si w t ap defini tt ou km yon atis, kijan w t ap defini tt ou? Ar la se kisa l ye pou ou? Emerante: nanpwen moun ki kapab dekri ar vr paske lart est une chose qui est vraiment spontan. Une chose qui sort de vous, yon bagay ki soti nan ou, san ke w pa konn ki l. Se kankou si m chita m ap pale avk yon moun, m chita m ap pale ak ou, e Watson: Yes, they were scared of it. Thats true. Emerante: They made us scared of it Watson: They made us scared. No, I grew up in it and I was scared of it Emerante: They made yo u scared of it ? Watson: They made me scared; they made me scared of it Emerante: If you told those people there are a lot of people that think all people in Haiti know Vodou t hat s not true. Not everyone knows Vodou. I dont know if today everyone Watson: Theres more freedom of ideas, things like that. Emerante: True. Watson: A more open mentality. Emerante: Thats it. Watson: But growing up in the 1980s, they made you scared of it Emerante: They made you scared of it Its true. Watson: Th at Vodou is evil, lougawou Emerante: Then I dont have to tell you about the 1940s! Watson: Yes, before, thats true. Emerante: Okay. Watson: But what defines you as an artist? After many years living an artists life, what if you had to define yours elf as an artist, how would you define yourself? What is art to you? Emerante: No one can truly describe what art is because art is something that is very spontaneous. Something that is comes out of you, without you k nowing when. Its as if Im sitt ing an d talking with someone, Im sitting and Im talking to you
ou ge n dwa vini ou menm ou di m yon bagay. Men si w di m yon bagay se ke imedyatman m ap jwenn yon repons pou m bay ou, sa k f sa? Li f pati de ar la. Se km si li nan ou. Kreyasyon an nan ou. Spontaneyite a nan ou. Gen yon bagay nan yon dezym ou menm. Konprann? Ou gen yon bagay ki dikte w yon bagay, ki di w men repons la se pa ou menm ki chwazi l, se pa ou menm ki konnen l. Ou pa kapab, ou pa te kapab. Gen de bagay ke m di yon moun m pa kw... Watson: Gen de bagay ou reyalize nan vi atistik ou? Emerante: Nan vi atistik mwen. M pa te kapab, si m la toujou sa s on bagay, m pa menm kapab esplike l. M kapab leve, pa egzanp m konn la, ou w lakou, ou w kay sa? Watson: Mmm hmm. Emerante: Ou w bagay ki pase nan tranblemant an? Ou w l kanpe? Enben mande m kijan l kanpe? M pa konnen. M pa konnen kijan l f kanpe. Yon ti estati devan pt la, andedan pt la, l w fin antre premye mach eskalye a. Richa achte l nan men yon moun ki pote l vin vann. Richa, sa pa di Richa km moun nan konsa, non. Men Richa renmen Vodou. Tout sa l w nan Vodou, li achte l. L m te rete nan Plen, gen yon bon distans isit la ak Plen. Enben jou Richa achte ti tonton sa ki anba, m dmi, m reve yon moun di m vin w kote Richa mete m M di kisa Ri cha f, Richa f yon bagay. F m al w. M desann epi m w ti tonton an jan l te vini vin di m nan, jan m te w l la, jan m te konnen an. Enben se konsa gen yon st de enposib ki antre nan ou, ki di ou bagay la ki f w koprann bagay la. Otreman ou pa ta sa konnen l, donk m kw se sa ki devi atistik mwen, se li ki f m, se li ki kenbe m, se yon doub Watson: De ou menm? Emerante: Doub de ou menm. Ke ou pa konnen, ke ou pa Watson: Pa ka sezi? Pa meprize? and you tell me something. Even if you tell me something that I dont immediately have a response to, I ll find an answer to give you. W hy is that? Its part of the art. Its as if its inside you. The creation is in you. The spontaneity is in you. Theres something in its a second you. Understand? You have something that dictates you that says heres the response; youre not the one who chooses it, you dont know it. You couldnt. There are thi ngs that I dont think people could Watson: There are things you realized in your artistic life? Emerante: In my artistic life. I am not able tothat Im still here is something; I ca nt even ex plain it. For example, you see that house? Watson: Mmm hmm. Emerante: You see that thing that was in the earthquake? You see it standing? Well ask me how its standing? I dont know. I dont know how its standing. A little statue in front of the door, inside of the door, after you pass the first step in the stairs. Richa rd bought it from someone who brought it here to sell. Richa rd not to say Richard as the person li ke this, no. But Richa rd likes Vodou, he bought it. When I lived in Plen, there was a good dist ance between here and Plen. Well one day Richa rd bought this little statue thats down there, I was sleeping, I dream t someone told me come see where Richa rd put me I said what did Richa rd do. Richa rd did something. I have to go see. I went down and I saw the little statue just as he was when he came to speak to me, just like I saw him, just like I had met him. Well thats how t heres a kind of impossible that enters you, that tells you what makes you understand the impossible thing. Otherwise you woul dnt know it, so I think thats what describes my artistic life, thats what makes me, thats what holds me, its a double Watson: Of yourself? Emerante: A double of yourself. That you dont know; that you cant Watson: C ant surprise? Cant ignore ?
Emer ante: Ou pa ka sezi. Ou pa ka sezi. Se kankou l m te genyen, m te gen yon powm ke m te konn di m te renmen anpil. Se te La nuit de lessor de la fwet de myst Enben m te renmen di l paske l toujou di tout kote l pase moun nan toujou ap swiv li. Doub la toujou ap swiv li, toujou w l nan tout peyi nan tout kote. Men li pa t sa separe l de li.Epi nan fen, nan fen an, doub la soti li di l M byen kontan ke w rele m zanmi oubyen w rele m yon fr men tout kote w ye m ap toujou la, m ap toujou konnen, jis l w mouri, m ap chita sou tonm ou. Watson: Wow. Emerante: M te renmen l paske, plis ke m renmen reky powm nan pou k m. Watson: Wi, dak. Oke Emerante: M renmen pou k m nan se ke m gen yon bagay e m renmen pou k m nan. M pa janm santi m pou kont mwen. Watson: Oke, dak. Emerante: Donk, se sa, se konsa m defini ar la. E m konnen sans le savoir dnye moun ki atis konsa. E pett menm yon istoryan te ansanm tou. Watson: Wi, se sa. Emerante: Yon istoryen, yon m pa konnen Watson: Antwopolg Emerante: Antwopolg, sa k f w al f antwopoloji, sa k f w al f, e se sa m etidye tou. Watson: Antwopoloji? Emerante: Antwopoloji, sa k f ou f l? Paske w renmen lanati... bagay ou renmen kilti a, ou renmen nati. Ou r enmen lanati, ou viv ak lanati. Donk, se konsa ke m defini ar la mwen menm. Emerante: You cant surprise. You cant surprise. It like when I had a poem that I used to say I really liked. It was La nuit de lessor de la fouette de mystre, well I liked to recite it because it always said everywhere he passed the person was always following him, the double was always following him, always saw h im in every country to which he went But he couldnt separate himself from the double a nd in the end, the double came out of him and told him Im really happy that you called me your friend or you called me your brother but everywhere you are, Ill always be ther e, Ill always know, until you die, and then Ill sit on your tomb. Watson: Wow. Emerante: I loved it more than I love the collection of poems for myself. Watson: Yes, understood. Okay. Emerante: I liked being alone; I have something I like and I like to be alone. I never felt like I was lonesome Watson: Okay, understood. Emerante: So, thats it, thats how I define that art. And I knew without knowing it that every one whos an artist is like this. And perhaps even an historian is included too. Watson: Yes, thats it. Emerante: A n historian, a Watson: Anthropologist Emerante: Anthropologist, what made you do anthropology, what made you do it, and thats what I studied too. Watson: Anthropology? Emerante: Anthropology, what made you do it? Because you like nature you like culture, you like nature. You like nature, you live with nature. So, thats how I define art.
Watson: Dak. Ou fini? Emerante: Mmm hmm. Watson: Oke, you want something else, thats okay? No more? Emerante: Thats okay? Watson: Oke, atis Emerante De Pradines. M pa konn si ke m ka retire plis istwa lavi w ank. Ou di nou anpil sou vi atistik ou, ann Ayiti, aletranje, knman ou viv, nou remsye w anpil, nou panse ke avk sa ou rakonte nou n ap konprann Ayiti mye, n ap konprann lavi atistik mye, n ap di w msi pou tout delegasyon FIU, msi anpil. Emerante: Msi, mwen menm tou, m remsye nou plis ke nou vin mande m, nou enterese a vi, a vi atisik ann Ayiti, m kontan sa, m kontan pou nou genyen yon bon fs ak kouraj pou nou viv, pou nou f sa toujou pou tout moun kapab konnen, timoun k ap vini demen dy, tout jens k ap vini an pou konnen l. Msi. Watson: Msi, msi. Nou remsye w. Watson: Understood. Youre finished? Emerante: Mmm hmm. Watson: Okay, you want something else, thats okay? No more? Emerante: Thats okay? Watson: Okay, artist Emerante De Pradines. I dont know if I can draw out any more stories about your life. You told us a lot about your life as an ar tist, in Haiti, abroad, how you lived, we really thank you. With what youve told us well better understand Haiti ; well better understand your life as an artist. On behalf of FIU, we thank you; thank you so much. Emerante: Thank you. M e too, I thank you more because you came to interview me, youre interested in the life, artistic life in Haiti. Im happy for that, Im happy for you to have strength and courage to live, so you can keep doing this so people can know, children who come later, all future g enerations can know. Thank you. Watson: Thank you, we thank you.