Haiti has got talent, especially singing talent, and one of them is Port-au-Prince born and bred Miu, a singer-songwriter born Murielle Augustin. Miu (pronounced Mee-Yoo) is a nickname given to Augustin as a child by family members, and she gladly adopted it as a stage name.
Miu belts out mostly love songs with her honey-coated, sugar-tinged soprano. One of her best vocal performances is the song “Sous Le Soleil” (Under the Sun).
Her style is rather versatile. There is a single entitled “Hot Boy”, in which she sings passionately and with co-dependent abandonment about loving dangerously. “Tann”, an uptempo track, catches the ear. It’s a song a few women can identify with: the restless pursuit of a relationship that we know can only bring us pain and heartache, but that we pursue in spite of our mostly reasonable self. The ballad, which Augustin sings with an inflamed tone that seems to come from the depths of her being, explores the usual theme of unrequited love…with extras. The song might as well be the ringtone for the women of the world who are waiting, perhaps sadly in vain, to be loved in return by the object of their amorous passion.
Tann se tann mwen chita m’ap tann
Li vire je’l gade nan direksyon’m
Malgre tout sa mwen fè pou’m atire atansyon’l
Je’l pase sou mwen kòmsi mwen pa’t ekziste
Waiting, I’m sitting her waiting
He turns and looks in my direction
But in spite of all I do to get his attention
His eyes overlook me like I didn’t exist
And that’s not all folks. The situation gets more desperate.
Ki sa mwen fè ki fè li pa avè’m?
Ki sa pou’m fè pou’l ka panse avè’m?
What have I done to make him not wanna be with me?
What can I do so he’ll think of me?
Miu writes most of her songs, a characteristic that will no doubt be beneficial, though a songwriting royalty system is not yet in place in Haiti.
The singer says that her career officially started in 2006 when she landed as a finalist in a contest for new talent by Haiti-based record label Soley Sounds. Marc-Eddy “Eddy Wonder” Alexis, a local beatmaker help her put together the dance hall beat that attracted the attention of the judges.
Here’s a look into her world.
What’s it like for a female artist in Haiti?
Being an artist in Haiti is difficult, maybe more for the female ones. People see your sex appeal and origins more than the actual talent or capability. The biggest problem is that we keep talking about HMI—the Haitian music industry—while you don’t feel like it’s a real industry and nothing seems to be organized. As an artist you have to do a lot of things by yourself. Like if I’m having a concert, my team is responsible for the whole planning and promotion from A to Z, and since you don’t get much from your efforts, you cannot have a big team.
Can you discuss that song “Sous le Soleil”? Who wrote and produced it, and how was it inspired?
“Sous le Soleil” was a collaboration with Don Roy, the engineer of the French Institute in Haiti. Don Roy was the producer of the instrumental and I was the singer/ song writer. Don Roy from Black Leaders [a musical group based in Haiti] also recorded and mixed the song. These words was inspired to me by the softness and deepness of the “riddim” originaly made to be part of a project similar to Jamaican compilation around a riddim. the project was named “Anba Soley la” and the “riddim was named “Anba Solèy”.
Can you tell us about your childhood?
I didn’t have a perfect childhood like a fairy tale one, but it was not bad at all. I liked the profession of my mother who is a [a hat designer], and I was [influenced] by the sound of the saxophone of my father—who has a long big career and is actually playing in Jazz des Jeunes [a veteran musical group]. My parents weren’t very affectionate but I knew they loved me.
What singers have influenced your music?
I don’t have special preferences in terms of singers. I was influenced by all the successful singers that I’ve seen in my life.
Do you think Haiti supports its artists?
We are trying hard to change this point of view, but in Haiti when you choose to be an artist, for society it means that you didn’t find anything else to do, you are the failure of your family. With this mentality, it’s hard for Haiti to see the importance of this profession. Unfortunately, I’m sad to realize that the medias here in Haiti are strongly promoting the foreign artists, ignoring the Haitians whom are doing great music with good quality in most music [genres].
When will you release a full-length album?
I’ve planned to release the album before the end of the year. I’m about to put out a [single] in the month of July. But as you might know, in Haiti, it’s rare that your plans come to life on time.
Let’s support our Haitian artists! You can listen to more of Miu’s songs here.