Singer and songwriter Moonlight Benjamin fuses Caribbean voodoo melodies and rhythms, and American jazz, blues and rock. Benjamin, who is a voodoo priestess, was raised in Haiti and is based in France. She was born in Port-Au-Prince and moved to France in the early Oughts.
Benjamin released her debut album, Mouvman, in 2011, however it was 2018’s Sitane, and the 2020 followup Simido that garnered her international attention. In a 2020 interview with Songlines, Benjamin discusses her musical revolution, informed by her Haitian upbringing, her love of jazz, and exposure to gospel music. Leaning into the roots of rhythms of Haiti, her move to France, and her musical collaboration with French guitarist and composer Matthis Pascaud led Benjamin towards a more rock and blues based sound on Simido.
Even with her musical evolution, Benjamin still weaves her Haitian musical background and voodoo traditions into the craft of her songs. “I always sing about Haiti. I sing of her pride, I sing about socio-cultural problems, and I sing about the love I have for her,” Benjamin tells Songlines. The messages of her music remains: resilience and optimism and strength of a people who have faced hundreds of years of hardship.
Listen to a Spotify playlist of ten songs by Moonlight Benjamin below.
Photo credit: Nöt via Facebook