Martha Jean Claude
Born on March 21, 1919 in Port-au-Prince, Martha Jean Claude was an actress, dancer, singer, writer, compositor, philanthropist, an activist and perhaps the most respected Haitian artist in the international scene. Martha Jean Claude was very successful from the beginning of her career, due to her extremely beautiful voice and the deep connection she had with the people through her folkloric and Voodoo lyrics. An avid speaker against the abuse of the masses by authorities, led to her arrest in 1952, under thenPresident Paul Eugene Magloire, after the publication of one of her play "Anriette" which officials deemed to be against the government. She got imprisoned while pregnant. Had she not been released when she did, she would have given birth in jail, because just 2 days after her release, her first child was born. Fearing for her life, Martha Jean claude exiled to Cuba, on December 20, 1952, joining her husband, Victor Marabal, a Cuban Journalist whom she had met in Venezuela at one of her concert, prior to her incarceration. Martha was already known in the Spanish speaking community, and her fame just risen even more. She went on to make appearance on many TV and Radio show in Cuba. In 1957, she flew to Mexico to star in a movie alongside the well famous Cuban-Mexican actress, Ninon Sevilla, today considered one of the greatest artist in Cuba. She achieved great success and even became a producer at a Mexican TV station, all within just a year. She would return to Cuba the following year, and became a member of the very respected : "Cuban Union of Writers and Artists" while continuing her very successful singing career; she performed at some of the world most famous stages. Palais des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Madison Square Garden in New York City, Casas de Las Americas in Cuba, Maison de L'UNESCO in Paris, United Nation Headquarter in New York City; Salle Claude Campagne: The Faculty of Music at the Montreal University and countless of other famous venues throughout the world. She toured most of Spanish America and many African countries, including Angola which was going through one of the bloodiest civil war at the time. An activist voice was needed, and Martha Jean Claude was well known for her fiery political songs in not only Haiti, but also Cuba, and even Panama. She lent her motherly voice to the Revolution and was welcomed with great enthusiast by the Angolan population.
After nearly three decades in exile, and clearly being home sick, as she expressed through many of her singing. Martha Jean Claude came back to her beloved land after the fall of Jean Claude Duvalier in 1986, where she would have one of her most acclaimed concert, in front of thousands and thousands who where happy and eager to see her.
She returned to Cuba, after all, Cuba was a second home, as she emphasized it with the publication of her album titled:
" Soy Mujer of Dos Islas" translating into " I am a Woman of Two Islands" She died from complication of diabetes at the age of 82; on November 14, 2001 at her home in Havana, Cuba.
No other artist could translate the Culture of Haiti through their musics in a variety of different languages like Martha did; she was the true Grande Dame of Haitian Music, a Diva with no comparison, one of the most precious jewel Haiti has ever had.
MARTHA JEAN CLAUDE - CHOCOUNE - Tributo.mp3