Toto Bissainthe

Toto Bissainthe was a Haitian singer, actress, dancer, born in the city of Cap-Haitien, grew up there till her early adolescent years; when her parents sent her to the United States to pursue her education. After high school, Bissainthe left the US in favor of France, where she would study acting. After graduating from college, she started a theater company in France, named Griots, which became the first African Theater company in Paris. Toto Bissainthe famed started with an amazing performance at "La Vielle Grille", in Paris, in 1973, establishing herself as an amazingly talented singer, songwriter and composer. Her stunning, soul-stirring voice paid homage to the lives, struggles, and the miseries and spirituality of the working class and the poor rural Haitians. Hunted by the memories of her land's cultural richness and language, she dedicated herself to sing traditional Vodou songs.

Toto Bissainthe stayed in France for 30 years, without ever visiting Haiti, even though she toured, Africa, Europe, and the French Antilles; in fear of political repression from Jean Claude Duvalier, who deemed her renditions of the traditional songs, against the government. Her fear of going to Haiti, only anchored even more deeper, the love of her mother-land . She went deeply into the research of traditional Haitian songs, incorporated modern instruments such as piano and guitar and rendered an amazing blend. Along with Lumane Casimir, she is the pioneer of the modern Haitian Rasingenre. Toto Bissainthe translated numerous famous French songs into true rural Haitian Creole, but she interpreted many French's as well; one of such is of the Famous Michel Sardou;  "Comme d'habittude." She was so well beloved in France, that she won the" Prix de la Chason TF1"  ( TF1's Music Prize) TF1 is one of the oldest and most respected radio stations in France.  Her fan-base grew considerably; from Haitian living in the Diaspora, to foreign political figures. While busy singing and composing musical sounds to accompany the traditional Haitian songs, she kept herself busier, by starring in many movies, one of them was chosen to play at the Cannes Festival. L"Homme sur les quais." (The man on the docs), she starred in over 10 movies during her lifespan.

 Toto Bissainthe left France, and decided to live closer to Haiti by emigrating to Martinique, in 1979, and stayed there for 5 years; then she moved to the Dominican Republic and stayed there for 2 years; till 1986, where she would finally stepped foot on Haiti's soil, 3 decades later, after the fall of Jean Claude Duvalier, and decided to never again leave. She died on June 4th 1994. Her depression for Haiti's political climate, which she outspokenly pointed out in the overwhelmed majority of her songs; contributed to the liver disease, which overcame her. Toto Bissainthe is considered  to be one of the few greatest Haitian singers ever lived.  

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