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Sanba Zao

Lakou Mizik

Sanba Zao (Louis Lesly Marcelin) is a legend of the racine (roots) music movement in Haiti. A founder of the Sanba and back to the earth movements in Haiti, Sanba Zao has been on the musical scene for nearly 30 years. He is not only a master drummer with an encyclopedic knowledge of traditional songs and rhythms; Zao is a ferocious front man with the energy of artists half his age. Zao became involved with the Lakou Mizik project through mutual friends. Originally, he came to give guidance and suggest collaborators, but as time went on Jonas, Steeve and Nadine started seeing him as their mentor and a portal to the lost traditions that they were seeking to revive. Jonas’ soulful pop sensibility blended with Zao’s deep knowledge of traditions immediately gave youthful rebirth to old songs that had long been relegated to the archives. As the Lakou Mizik collective began to take shape Sanba Zao invited his son Woulele in to the group. Zao is a professor at L’Ecole National des Arts, Haiti’s national arts school, and he devotes his life to teaching and promoting the culture and music of Haiti. He is a musical guide and mentor to the younger members of Lakou Mizik and provides the essential cultural foundation for the band’s music.