NEW ORLEANS – Although the historical relationship between Haiti and New Orleans dates back for more than two hundred years, Krewe du Kanaval’s conception can be traced back to 2015, when Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, brought members of Preservation Hall to Haiti.
Their experiences planted the seeds of a Mardi Gras krewe to celebrate the shared connections between the two cultures. “Wherever I go in New Orleans I feel Haiti,” says Chassagne. “The music I hear, the food I taste, the colors, the movement, the spirit of the city. Our Krewe aims to celebrate and strengthen this deep bond.”
On Wednesday, February 12, Krewe du Kanaval announced the following as their 2020 King and Queen:
QUEEN: Mia X
A native of New Orleans born Mia Kristin Young. Affectionately known as Mama Mia worldwide, Mia X is a gem. She is a pioneer in New Orleans Hip hop and bounce music and first lady of Master P’s No Limit Records. She’s an activist, a philanthropist, youth mentor, best selling author, multi-platinum selling recording artist, chef, actress, and most recently became a teacher of music at Loyola University of New Orleans.
Mia believes that “You Don’t live in New Orleans. New Orleans lives in you.” Mia recently celebrated her 50th birthday by bringing supplies to various shelters and safe houses feeding 500 homeless people and gifting them bags of needed supplies. Mia says that, “You’re not really going anywhere if you’re walking over people to get there.” Her joys are performing her music on tour, cooking, hanging with family and friends, spending time with elderly people, having ladies night Black Girl Magic with The Pinettes and Preservation Hall Brass Bands and going out in New Orleans.
KING: Titos Sompa
Originating from the Congo (Brazzaville), Titos Sompa is a charismatic and extraordinarily gifted performing artist, teacher, and healer. Since arriving in America from Paris, where he taught music and dance and toured Europe with his band, Les Echos Noir, he has inspired artists, students and audiences with his African cultural orientation that holistically integrated music, dance, singing, folklore and spirituality. Mr. Sompa was the first to introduce the earthly and fluid Congolese style of simultaneous dancing and singing to American audiences. In the early 1970’s, he and lead drummer, Coster Massamba, brought Congolese culture to the New York artistic scene.
A renown dancer, choreographer, and musician, noted especially as a master Congolese drummer, percussionist, and kalimba player, Mr. Sompa utilizes his multiple talents to make known and keep alive Congolese musical and cultural traditions that offer healing, spiritual grounding, and affirming community to the Western world.
Arcade Fire will headline the third annual Kanaval Ball on Friday, February 14, at 8 p.m. at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. A true celebration of Haitian culture and its many contributions to the city of New Orleans, Kanaval Ball’s 2020 theme – “Merci Haiti” – will pay homage to the longstanding relationship between the two cultures, which dates back for more than 200 years.
In addition to music by Arcade Fire and Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Kanaval Ball’s music lineup will include Michael Brun, Jillionaire, Lakou Mizik and Pierre Kwenders, with additional special guests. The ball kicks off a weekend of celebrations with New Orleans’ newest Mardi Gras Krewe, founded in 2018 by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire and Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Tickets to the 2020 Kanaval Ball can be purchased here. Ball and membership proceeds support Krewe du Kanaval’s philanthropic initiatives serving unmet social and cultural needs of New Orleans and Haiti.
Parade goers can catch Krewe du Kanaval’s in the Krewe of Freret parade with the Kanaval float and marching group. They will be the last float and marching krewe of the parade.