11/29/2011, 9:29 a.m.
Up close with Wyclef Jean …
Grammy Award-winning songwriter/musician/producer and humanitarian Wyclef Jean jetted into town to perform for Akyson Foundation’s fundraiser, “Contemporary Gala,” which supports the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. It was a spectacular event, produced by AJ Williams of Creative Events, and held in the new wing of the MFA.
The space was doused in bright colors of the Caribbean and the cuisine was created by renowned chef Todd English with Sunny Hostin, CNN’s legal analyst and anchor for ABC World News Now, as Mistress of Ceremonies. That’s not all! There were fabulous auction items up for bid, including a four-night trip for two to Haiti with a stay at the Karibe Hotel; the Russell Simmons East Hamptons Estate Experience, where you and a guest would meet and greet Simmons and attend his annual charity event; and a chance to travel and stay at Wyclef’s home, somewhere in the world.
Dinner was capped with fabulous mini desserts such as crème brûlée, chocolate cake and chocolate covered strawberries.
Before Wyclef hit the stage for an electrifying performance, he generously gave his time for a round-table chat about his role as Haiti’s “Ambassador” and his upcoming projects.
As Haiti’s official/unofficial ambassador how has your role changed since the earthquake?
I came in this game as a Fugee, a refugee, and Haitians didn’t even know [that] I was Haitian. You can ask a Haitian what’s Wyclef’s first CD and they wouldn’t know. The first CD is called “Blunted on Reality” and the concept of the Fugees’ first CD is that we talked about the stereotypes on how they treated Haitians.
The name actually came from how we were going to make them respect boatpeople. All my life I’ve been singing policies and not just for Haiti.
After the earthquake, I went beyond singing and put my foot in the fire in certain places where people think I have no business putting my foot in. [Laughs]. They’re like just keep playing the guitar, playing those songs and making Shakira dance.
I just feel that my role as an ambassador has grown much more, not just in the sense of talking, but in how can we push legislation really forward and get some of the laws within the parliament and the constitution passed to make it easier for you to come to Haiti and set up a business.
Are you going to run for president in five years?
I can’t really see five years from now. I can see the Wyclef Jean School of the Arts and the Hospital.
Where will the school of the arts and the hospital be in Haiti?
The idea that I have right now is where I come from, Croix-des-Bouquets, which is a town of the artists. What I like about the town where I come from is that there is a natural thing going on with their hands, a natural mason movement going on. And the idea of this school and where I come from, it’s important to leave that legacy. I feel that there are a bunch of Wyclefs that are there.