The vigil will take place on Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Place Émilie-Gamelin, located at the intersection of Sainte-Catherine and Saint-Hubert streets. The organizing team, including Paul Toussaint, invites the public to bring a candle.
We don’t want to go too funeral. We want to celebrate his life, pay tribute to him and share our friendship for him. He was someone who loved culture and who sold Haitian culture to the world.explains Paul Toussaint, who was executive chef at Agrikol before launching his own restaurant.
Let’s play his music, videos, some testimonials, spend this moment with him before it’s over, before his body disappears, he continues. His music and culture are so rich that they will remain with us until our last days.
a christmas hit 1999
Paul Toussaint remembers his friend Michael Benjamin, known as Mikaben, as an artist who carried the colors of his native country deep in his heart. Born in Port-au-Prince in 1981, he studied in Montreal before beginning his career in 1999, participating from Quebec in a Christmas song contest called Konkou Chante Nwel, organized by the Haitian channel Telemax. She released her first album, VwayajNext year.
Mikaben was lucky enough to grow up in a family of artists. Her father, Lionel Benjamin, is a popular singer, known for his interpretations of Christmas classics. Mikaben did not win the competition, but his song sad girl it was a success.
sad girl He spoke of the poor, of the people who did not experience Christmas like us while we ate around a table. She was looking for a little bit of hope for those people who did not have the same opportunities.explains chef Toussaint.
Even me kid sang that, I was 12 at the time. It was the song that was on everyone’s lips.he said.
Flag bearer of Haitian culture, from Montreal to Port-au-Prince
Mikaben had a great career in Quebec, especially with his album Miguel, released in 2004. He has performed extensively in Montreal, notably at the Francofolies and the International Haitian Music Festival. But it was really in Haiti, to which he returned shortly after, that the artist found his bearings.
He was already more settled in Haiti, where there were more people for him. The Haitian music scene in Montreal is not too big. They are more seasonal events.explains Paul Toussaint.
In Haiti, he recorded albums with [tout le monde]. I think he is the only Haitian musician who was able to collaborate with almost all the groups that existed [dans le pays]. Among his notable collaborations, we think especially of the group Carimi, with whom he was on tour when he died, but also of the Montreal artist Wesli, born like him in Port-au-Prince.
At 41 years old, Mikaben had no intention of stopping. He had released his last album in 2018 and Paul Toussaint was planning to talk to Evenko about bringing the Carimi tour to Quebec.
He really was a young man full of talent, who loved the culture and who sold Haiti every day, wherever he went. Even the last day he left after singing for Haiti with his flag on his backthe chef concludes.
This text was written froman interview conducted by Catherine Richercultural columnist on the show 15-18. Comments may have been edited for clarity or conciseness.