• Nancy Francois

Leyla McCalla, Haitian American Youth (HAY) Online In Focus for September

Leyla McCalla (Courtesy of her Press Photo Gallery at LeylaMcCalla.com)

The death of two beautiful souls on August 29th, 2015 changed much about my views of certain elements of Haitian culture that no one can understand but me. In the search for understanding though I am reminded by the work of one I came to know over the past year through his best friend, my boyfriend, Grandra.

So this month a young talented woman of Haitian descent I learned of while doing research for a client called Zakafest in 2014 for their Folk music festival that showcases Haitian Roots (Racine or Rasin) Music. Leyla McCalla is the focus in remembrance of Brenda "Skilow".

So Leyla McCalla among many this year will be shared as Matisou Legba "Opens the Door" to Haitian roots music and culture in the Great name of Thonny "TouTou Lacroix's" name. Respect to two beautiful souls Thonny and Brenda. May you both rest in peace and your children find comfort in the tributes to come from so many who loved and respected you both.

I can only speak on TouTou and out of respect with acknowledgement of knowing both parties also include a friend I just recently linked back up with. Just want to add a tribute and share the Haitian culture they both loved.

Brenda was a young talented Haitian American who reminded me of how much I too seeked our roots and did not mind going into areas that our parents warned of to learn of it. So I feel a bit connected and feel to share Leyla McCalla this month out of pre-programmed rotation in her honor most as well as Thonny.

Just, the fact she wanted to spread the culture past Little Haiti that many in the community shun till lucrative, I feel sharing another positive woman as she suits a lasting tribute to come. To all the great young women who do all they can to share the Haitian culture through dance, music, poetry and all expressions of art, "Salute to All." Salute to you Brenda aka "Skilow" most of all. Awkward as to circumstances and so torn as to how to pay tribute due to them. I know you understand my anxst of all. Our hearts go out to the families who still grieve and we ask all to respect their space in this trying time. Two little children and an older child of the talented woman are in need of a community that understands to respect their house with silence. They are impressionable and too young to understand all this so I hope many put on their big man and big girl pants on to act with dignity and respect at least for them. "Nan non Gran Met La, Mesi Bondye (In the name of the Grand Master, thank you God)."

Mesi Bondye by Leyla McCalla


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