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Emeline Michel’s new album, the self-produced, acoustic “Quintessence,” featuring a host of top-flight Haitian and other musicians as well as lyrics from major novelists and poets, is a contribution toward her country’s healing and reemergence.
It has two solemn, sad songs that directly address the Haiti earthquake of 2010. Others speak of rebuilding the country and life itself.
But “Quintessence” is not just a social document. Michel began it before the earthquake struck. The original plan was to celebrate soul and simplicity. Michel, who is in her mid-40s, was coming out of a divorce, had moved to New York, was giving away clothes and jewelry, had cropped her hair into a short natural style. She was paring away excess, from both her life and her music.