Lecture in language
She describes her music as a blend of voodoo and rock’n’roll. Born in Haiti and living in France, Moonlight Benjamin is both a voodoo priestess and a powerful singer and songwriter with an impressive vocal range. Her voice does not leave anyone cold. The title track of her album Siltane is one of the songs of the year. The Guardian calls her the Caribbean Patti Smith.
Born moments after her mother's death, she literally came to the world with prayers. She was brought to an orphanage where Reverend Doucet Alvarez, fascinated by the story, said, 'If she has stayed alive, there is certainly a reason. I will call her Moonlight. A light which will light the future – I will adopt her as my daughter.'
Shortly before her 17th birthday, in 1988, she met Tinès Salvant who suggested her to take part in the recording of his first album, as a backing singer. This led to her very first series of concerts.
She then decided to go back to Port-au-Prince, with nothing but a suitcase containing a few worn-out clothes and a pair of shoes and met her childhood friend who told her about Voodoo, a culture of tolerance and resistance. And Moonlight discovered and mastered the voodoo philosophy. At the same time, she met Max Aubin, a singer and guitarist, they made music together and she went from studio to studio working as a backing singer to earn her living. In the 1990s, she collaborated with a well-known Haitian musician, composer and poet Jean-Claude Martineau, in recitals they were playing together. In 1999, along with Max Aubin and Jean-Claude Martineau, they won the competition Chanté Noël, organised by the TV channel Télé Max. Max Aubin wrote the music and JeanClaude Martineau the lyrics. A few months later, Max was dead. “I will never find the words to describe how I felt at this loss. It was at this point that I had the idea of going elsewhere to make music,” she describes her next journey.
She left Haiti in 2002, taking her native language of Creole with her, to finally share the culture from which she came, which lived and still lives in her heart. Her steps led to Toulouse in the south of France to study music at Music'Halle. She worked on other projects before coming to her last album, Siltane. All the songs speak of Haiti, of its different facets, of its evolution or its lack of evolution. She wanted an interpretation of the image of Haiti – wounded certainly, but standing tall. Her goal is to continue to create, to share and to love, in France or elsewhere.