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‘We’ve been offered a myopic view of history’: folk singer Leyla McCalla untangles Haiti’s complex roots

The Haitian-American musician, known for Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters, has seen her country harshly disparaged in the US – so she is trying to tell its true story Leyla McCalla’s memories of Haiti fall somewhere in the hazy space between dream and reality, in the way so many childhood recollections do. She can still hear the goats that would gather outside her grandmother’s house, where she came to visit from New York as a kid, or the drums and the gunshots that would ring out at night, in and out of sync. There were rabbits, lovebirds, roosters and guinea pigs – “a Noah’s ark of Haitian birds and small animals” as McCalla, now 36, puts it, while sitting upstairs at a Nashville coffee shop in late March. Then there was the time her mother was bitten in the breast by an aggressive horse. “My mother told me later that my grandmother said that horse was a man,” McCalla says, laughing. “Because in Haitian spirituality, nothing is as it seems. My mother asked her, ‘Why would you think that horse was a man?’ And my grandmother said, ‘Why else would it bite you in the breast?’” Continue reading...

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