Listen Up! Haitian Singer/Songwriter Wanito
We’ve always had a secret love of the audition portion of American Idol, watching hopefuls either make complete asses of themselves or blow us away with an impressive set of pipes. But we can’t help wondering about what kind of talent lies outside the reach of a televised reality show and an audition with J.Lo and company.
Enter PeaceTones, a nonprofit organization that travels to developing nations and gives free legal, marketing, and international distribution advice to artists. PeaceTones held a contest in Haiti last December called “Haiti Sings” to suss out undiscovered musicians with an ability to share something powerful about Haitian culture, history, and strength. Of the 19 contestants, the winner was Beaubrun Louis Pascal Juanitho, who goes by the name “Wanito.” And after about 35 seconds of watching his YouTube performance of “Disparisyon,” we were instantly bowled over. (The fact that he is disarmingly handsome and speaks French Creole certainly doesn’t hurt, either.)
Wanito’s self-taught style of guitar playing and singing is tinged with Caribbean influences — his voice is at once soulful and disarming. Much like Brazilian singer/songwriter Seu Jorge, his music is plaintive and uncluttered, while vocals take center stage. And, like Jimi Hendrix, Wanito plays the guitar left handed and strung upside down. As the winner, Wanito is doing what any newly discovered musical talent does: Tour.
With a passport hot off the press, the 22-year-old is leaving his country for the first time to perform at venues across the country, including the following six stops in Massachusetts:
• Thursday, April 21st at 9 p.m.: Bull McCabe’s w/ Scotch Bonnet Band, 366 Somerville Ave., Somerville
• Friday, April 22nd at 10 p.m.: Tufts University, Hotung Café, 44 Professor’s Row, Medford
• Monday, April 25th at 9 p.m.: The Beehive w/ Sarah Brindell, 541 Tremont St., Boston
• Wednesday, April 27th at 7 p.m.: UMass Amherst, Grad Lounge, One Campus Center Way, Amherst
• Thursday, April 28th at 6 p.m.: The French Cultural Center, 53 Marlborough St., Boston
• Thursday, April 28th at 9 p.m.: Bella Luna Milky Way with Zili Misik, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain
“I want to prove my talent despite my weakness in the English language, I want to give everything in me; to give Haiti the attention and value it deserves,” says Wanito. “I am inspired by my experiences, everything around me, everything I see, things that hurt me and make me who I am.”