Welcome Note

Welcome to Voices of the Diaspora…Haitian Voices. In 2010, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale commissioned a young Haitian American composer to write two significant song cycles – Ayiti (Haiti) and Diplomasi (Diplomacy), each having three movements. With those two world premieres and several other of his compositions, the Chorale introduced Sydney Guillaume and his father, the Haitian poet Gabriel T. Guillaume to Toronto and Montréal during Black History Month 2011.

As The Nathaniel Dett Chorale continues its 25th Anniversary Season and a Pan-African retrospective of repertoire drawn from our 25-year history, it is a real pleasure to re-visit Sydney’s music which so deftly and poignantly represents the history, culture, spirituality, and passion of his native country. Sydney’s compositions not only tell the story of Haiti and its peoples, but they also serve to draw attention to the struggles, hopes and dreams of people of African Descent around the world. In 2024, the final year of the UN designated International Decade of People of African Descent, this repertoire seems important to present anew. In the words of Sydney’s father Gabriel speaking about ‘Mama Afrika’ which opens our program:

 ‘L’Afrique, apparemment terre originaire de la vie et de l’humanité, devient de plus en plus terre de souffrance et de misère. De ce grand Continent, l’Occident ne reçoit que bruits de guerre et de tribulations, de famine, de génocide et de désolation. On discute, on en parle dans les grandes assemblées, mais les enfants d’Afrique continuent leur calvaire. Ils crient leur désespoir et leur envie de vivre a tous ceux qui, ici ou ailleurs, ont des oreilles pour entendre et un cœur pour comprendre.” – Gabriel T. Guillaume

 “Africa, apparently the original land of life and humanity, becomes more and more the land of suffering and misery. Of this vast continent, the West receives nothing but sounds of war and of tribulations, of famine, of genocide and of desolation. We discuss and speak of it in large assemblies, but the children of Africa continue their ordeal. They cry their desperation and strong will to live to all those, here and abroad, who have ears to hear and a heart to understand.” – Gabriel T. Guillaume

I trust that you will be informed, moved, and inspired as you participate with us in this evening’s performance. In the spirit of diplomacy, honour, and respect I welcome you to

Voices of the Diaspora…Haitian Voices.


D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
Artistic Director



Saturday, February 17, 2024, 8:00 PM
Grace Church on-the-Hill, Toronto, ON

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale
D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, Artistic Director
Dakota Scott-Digout, Collaborative Pianist


All selections composed by Sydney Guillaume (b. 1982)
All text written by Gabriel T. Guillaume
except ‘Twa Tanbou’ by Louis M. Celestin

Welcome & Opening Remarks

Mama Afrika
Galilei Njembo, tenor
Jurij Konje & Akufuna Sifuba, drummers
Ineza Mugisha, soprano

Dominus Vobiscum
Matheus Coelho, baritone
Ego Sum

 Alleluia Amen
Zyion Stephens, soprano


Dérrell Woods, baritone
Jurij Konje & Akufuna Sifuba, drummers
1. Lesklavaj (Slavery)
2. Delivrans (Deliverance)
3. Peseverans (Perseverance) 

Twa Tanbou

1. Oné – Respe
2. Koute – Tande
3. Men Ale – Men Vini

Fèt Chanpèt
Jurij Konje & Akufuna Sifuba, drummers
Andrew Gunpath, percussion

Meet Sydney Guillaume


Nearly all of Sydney Guillaume’s choral compositions have been commissioned works. He has written for renowned choirs such as the Grammy-award nominated Seraphic Fire, the Westminster Chorus, the University of Miami Frost Chorale, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, the Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir, the Saint Louis Chamber Singers, and the Miami Children’s Chorus. Many of his choral works, most with original poetry by his father Gabriel T. Guillaume, have fostered an awareness of the beautiful Haitian culture of his native country.


Nearly all of Sydney Guillaume’s choral compositions have been commissioned works. He has written for renowned choirs such as the Grammy-award nominated Seraphic Fire, the Westminster Chorus, the University of Miami Frost Chorale, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, the Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir, the Saint Louis Chamber Singers, and the Miami Children’s Chorus. Many of his choral works, most with original poetry by his father Gabriel T. Guillaume, have fostered an awareness of the beautiful Haitian culture of his native country.

Praised by the Miami Herald for their “impressive maturity and striking melodic distinction”, Sydney Guillaume’s compositions are known to be intricate, challenging and yet highly spirited. They promote human values, are full of heart and passion, and continually enthral choirs everywhere they have been performed around the world. They have been featured at numerous conferences and international festivals such as the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the World Choir Games and Ireland’s Cork International Choral Festival. Sydney also writes film music – and has written original film and documentary scores for the Los Angeles based company Loyola Productions.

Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sydney Guillaume is currently residing in Portland, Oregon working as a full-time composer, conductor and frequently doing workshops on his music with university and high school choirs throughout North America. Since 2013, Sydney has been the conductor of Imbroglio Sextet, a group of musicians from Haiti, Spain, Bolivia and the United States; the group met in Haiti at the École de Musique St. Trinité summer camp, where they all volunteer as music teachers. In 2017, Sydney was honoured by the top music school in Haiti for his “great contribution in the expansion and the promotion of the music and culture of Haiti around the world.”

Sydney’s recent activities as conductor include the 2022 Georgia All-State Senior Treble Choir, the 2019 Florida All-State Middle School Treble Chorus, the 34th annual Idaho State University Choral Invitational Festival, the 2018 Maine All-State High School Mixed Chorus, an all-Guillaume concert at the Lincoln Center in NYC, and concerts with the Imbroglio Sextet at Carnegie Hall and at the 2018 ISME World Conference in Azerbaijan.


Mama Afrika (Creole – English Translation)

Rèl-o! Sanmba tande rèl-o! 
Sanmba nan Kiskeya ap mande poukisa…
Pouki tout deblozay nan lakou Afrika?
Pouki tout deblozay nan peyi Kiskeya?

Rèl-o!  Nou tande rèl-o!
Timoun ape kriye: mama-ouwo!
Rèl-o!  Nou tande rèl-o!
Granmoun ape rele: woh!
Rèl-o! Nou tande rèl-o!
Timoun, granmoun, timoun, granmoun!
Nou tande rèl-o!

Yo rele:
“Mama, mama, mama, mama…
Oh Mama Afrika!
Mama kote-ou mama, kote-ou?
Mama, mama, mama, mama,
Oh Mama Afrika!” 

La jounen kon lannouit
Se mizè, se traka…
La jounen kon lannouit
Se maladi, se lanmò…
Se grangou, se la gè!

“Kote-ou, kote-ou mama?
 Kote-ou ye mama?
Sanble ou pa tande!”
Yo kriye, yo rele
Yo rele, yo kriye…
Kriye, yo rele:
“Woh! Men kote ou ye?
Sanble ou pa tande mama!!!”

“Woh! Mama Afrika…
Sanble ou pa tande mama-ouwo!
Mama Afrika, jan ou te bèl-o, Kote-ou?”

Solèy leve, solèy kouche
Anyen pa chanje
Roumble isit, roumble lòtbò
Anyen pa deranje… Poukisa?
Mizè-a la…
Anyen pa chanje, anyen pa deranje…
Mizè-a toujou la…
Poukisa, poukisa, poukisa…? 

Doumbalele, doumba-yelele Afrika!
Koukouka koun keye Afrika!
Kekounkaye, koukaye Afrika!
Pran kouraj oh mama!
Pran kouraj Afrika
Kenbe la oh Mama Afrika!

Mama ou menm ki granmoun-o
Wa di yo, wa di yo jan la vi a te bèl-o!
Mama ou menm ki granmoun-o
Wa di yo, wa di yo jan la vi-a te dous-o…
Boul lò avèk diaman tap benyen la riviè
Eya, eya, eya Mama Afrika!
Zannimo tout koulè tap piafe nan fon bwa
Eya, eya, oh Afrika!

Rèl-o, Sanmba tande rèl-o!
Oh Mama, rèl yo toujou la…  
Men yon jou kon jodi-a
Tout rèl yo va kaba… 

Beni swa, beni swa Afrika…
Beni swa, beni swa Kiskeya…
Beni swa, beni swa Mama Afrika!

-Gabriel T. Guillaume

Cries! The troubadour hears cries!
The troubadour from the island of Haiti is asking why…
Why all the chaos in lands of Afrika?
Why all the chaos in the island of Haiti?

 Cries! We hear cries!
The young ones are yelling: oh mother!
Cries! We hear cries!
The grown ones are screaming: woh!
Cries! We hear cries!
All the young ones, all the grown ones!
We hear cries!

They are crying:
“Mother, mother, mother, mother,
Oh Mother Africa!
Mother, where are you mother, where are you?
Mother, mother, mother, mother,
Oh Mother Africa!”

Day and night
There is misery and nuisance
Day and night
There is illness and death
There is hunger and war! 

“Where are you? Where are you mother?
Oh but where mother?
Perhaps you don’t hear us?”
They cry, they scream
They scream, they cry
They cry and yell:
“Where, but where are you mother?
Perhaps you don’t hear us mother!!!” 

“Woh! Mother Africa…
Perhaps you don’t hear us oh dear mother!
Mother Africa, but how you were so beautiful, where are you?

The sun rises, the sun sets
Nothing is changing
Meetings here, meetings there,
Nothing is being bothered.
The misery is there… why?
Nothing is changing, nothing is bothered
The misery is still there…
Why, why, why…?

Keep strength Africa!
Hang on Afrika!
Hang in there oh mother…
Hang in there oh Mother Africa!

Mother, you wise one,
Tell them, tell them how beautiful life was!
Mother, you wise one,
Tell them, tell them how pleasant life was…
Balls of diamonds were showering rivers
Bravo, bravo, bravo Mother Africa!
Animals of all colors were wandering the deep woods.
Bravo, bravo Afrika!

Cries, the troubadour hears cries!
Oh Mother, the cries are still there…
But one day like today
All the cries will vanish…

Blessed, blessed be Afrika
Blessed, blessed be the Island of Haiti
Blessed, blessed be Mother Afrika!


Anmwe (Creole to English – Poetic Translation)

Si nou kapab, di mwen
Ki doulè ki pi gran
Pase doulè manman

Kè mwen ap dechire
Zantray mwen ap rache
Ki lès kape di mwen
Pouki yo touye pitit mwen

Ede’m kriye, ede’m rele
Doulè yon moun se doulè tout moun
Bay kou bliye, pote mak sonje
Yon jou pou chasè, yon jou pou gibie 

Mwen sèmante twa fwa
Sa pap pase konsa
Map kriye, map rele
Map fè latè tranble
Pou jistis ak lapè
Ka blayi sou la tè

Dlo nan je mwen seche
Tout zo nan kòm kraze
Lespri’m fin deraye
Mape rele anmwe

Lan nouit kou la jounen
Mechan yo dechennen
Malveyan pran lari
Inosan ap peri 

Anmwe, sekou souple
Lanmou sou la graba
Le mond’nan tèt anba 

Men tout rèl gen sekou
Na jwenn la vi yon jou
Lè sa tè-a va bèl
Bèl tankou lakansièl

-Gabriel T. Guillaume

Tell me, tell me
What pain is greater
Than a Mother’s sorrow

My heart is torn
My soul is aching
Can you tell me why
Why they killed my child

Hear me cry, hear my scream
We all share this pain
We all bear the scars
We must overcome this loathsome deed

I swear, oh I swear
I’ll turn this curse around
Through my screams, through my tears
And through my defiant strength
I’ll see justice and peace
embrace our world

I have tears no more
I know strength no more
I can think no more
I can only speak my pain

Night and day
Evil knows no rest
Haunting our lives
Snatching our youth

Help, help, o please help
Love is held hostage
In a world of violence

We must not despair
For we’ll know life again
In a new day full of hope
Filled with our children

Dominus Vobiscum (Creole – English Translation)

Dominus Vobiscum

 Gran Mèt-la avèk nou,
Li la nan mitan nou,
Li la nan fon kè nou,
Amen, Amen, Aleluya.

Depi nan tan benmbo
Nap mache, nap chèche, nap mande:
Ki lè, ki tan, ki jou,
Limiè-a va leve pou vin delivre nou?
Limiè lapè-a,
Limiè la verite-a,
Limiè la joua-a,
Limiè lespwa-a,
Limiè lanmou-a,
Limiè la vi-a.

Jodia an nou chante:
“Dominus vobiscum”

 Gran Mèt-la  avèk nou,
Li la nan mitan nou,
Li la nan fon kè nou,
Amen, Amen, Aleluya.

Mache, chèche, mande:
Li la nan mitan nou;
Mache, chèche, mande:
Li la nan fon kè nou.

Amen, Amen, Aleluya.

-Gabriel T. Guillaume

The Lord be with you

The Lord is with us,
He is among us,
He is in the depths of our hearts,
Amen, Amen, Alleluia.

Since the beginning of time
We have been searching, seeking, asking:
When will the light come, at last, to deliver us?
The light of peace,
The light of truth,
The light of joy,
The light of hope,
The light of love,
The light of life.

Today, let us all sing:
“Dominus vobiscum”

 The Lord is with us,
He is among us,
He is in the depths of our hearts,
Amen, Amen, Alleluia.

Search, seek, ask:
He is among us;
Search, seek, ask:
He is in the depths of our hearts.

Amen, Amen, Alleluia.

Ego Sum (French – English Translation)

Mon coeur est en émoi et mon âme soupire;
Te connaître, Seigneur, est mon plus grand désir.
Dis-moi, ô Dieu très bon,
Dis-moi, quel est Ton nom?

“Ego Sum, Ego Sum. Je suis Celui qui suis…
Je suis l’Alpha et l’Omega;
Je suis le Tout et l’Infini.
Je suis le Verbe, Je suis l’Esprit,
Le Père et le Fils à la fois.”    

Mais moi, je suis un homme.                       

“Ego Sum. Ego Sum; Je suis Celui qui suis…
Je suis Sagesse, Je suis Folie.
Je suis le Coeur, Je suis l’Amour;
Je suis l’Ami de tous les jours;
Je suis la Mort, Je suis la Vie.”

Mais moi, je suis juste un homme.

“Ego Sum. Ego Sum; Je suis Celui qui suis…
Je suis la Coupe et le Pain blanc;
Je suis le Prêtre et l’Oraison.
Je suis le Samba et la Chanson,
Bouche et Parole en même temps.”

 Mais moi, je ne suis qu’un homme.

 “Ego Sum. Ego Sum; Je suis Celui qui suis…
Je suis la Source et le Ruisseau;
Je suis le Sage et le Prophète.
Je suis la Tombe et le Berceau;
Je suis la Muse et le Poète.”

Et moi, je suis un homme.
Mais de par Ton Amour, je deviens tout cela;
Parce qu’à Ton Image,
Un jour Tu me créas.

Merci. Seigneur, Merci.

-Gabriel T. Guillaume

My heart is troubled and my spirit sighs;
To know You, Lord, is my greatest desire.
Tell me, oh greatest God,
Tell me, what is Your name?

 “Ego Sum. Ego Sum; I am that I am…
I am Alpha and Omega;
I am Everything, I am the Infinite.
I am the Word, I am the Spirit.
The Father and the Son all at once.”

 But me, I am a man.

 “Ego Sum. Ego Sum; I am that I am…
I am Wisdom, I am Madness.
I am the Heart and I am Love;
I am the everyday Friend;
I am Death and I am Life.”

But me, I am just a man.

“Ego Sum. Ego Sum; I am that I am…
I am the Cup, I am the Bread;
I am the Priest and the Prayer.
I am the Troubadour, I am the Song.
Mouth and Words at the same time.”

 But me, I am only a man.

 “Ego Sum. Ego Sum; I am that I am…
I am the Source, I am the Stream;
I am the Sage and the Prophet.
I am the Tomb and the Cradle;
I am the Muse and the Poet.”

 And me, I am a man.
But through Your Love, I become all of this;
Because in Your Own Image,
One day, You created me.

Thank You, Lord. Thank You.

Alleluia Amen (French – English Translation)

Alleluia amen.

 Le cœur de l’homme médite sa voie,
Mais c’est le Seigneur qui dirige ses pas.

Nous sommes tous voyageurs sur les chemins du monde,
Ne craignons aucun mal car Dieu est avec nous.

Enseigne-nous, Seigneur à bien compter nos jours,
Afin que notre cœur découvre la sagesse.

Nous cherchons la lumière et nos âmes soupirent,
Si Dieu veut, nous vivrons et nous aurons la paix.

Seigneur, je me confie en Toi.
Entre Tes mains je remets mon esprit. Alleluia Amen.

-Gabriel T. Guillaume

Proverb 16:9 / Psalm 22 / Psalm 90:12 / James 4:15 / Psalm 31:6

Alleluia amen.

 The heart of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

 We are all travellers in the roads of the earth,
We will fear no evil for the Lord is with us.

 Teach us, Lord, to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 We seek for the light and our souls ache,
If the Lord wills, we will live and we will have peace.

 Lord, I trust in You.
Into Your hands I commend my spirit. Alleluia



Ayiti (Creole to English – Poetic Translation)


Mwen soti Afrika, nan peyi papa mwen;
Nan batiman franse, espagnòl ak angle,
Tonbe Amerika, peyi mwen pa konnen:
Tou sa se Ayiti, tou sa se istwa mwen.

 Nou soti Afrika ak tout relijyon nou,
Ak vaksin, ak tanbou, ak tout sa ki nanm nou.
Nou ponkò debake, mechan desonnen nou,
Yo sèmante twa fwa fò yo konvèti nou.

 Yo fè sa yo kapab pou fè nou pèdi tèt nou,
Pou’n bliye zansèt yo ki chita nan Ginen,
Pou nou koupe fache ak pawòl Libète,
Pawòl Egalite ak pawòl Dignite.

 Nou pase twa san zan anba chenn lesklavaj;
La jounen kon lannuit n’ape redi travay,
Nou pote chay sou tèt, nou pote sou zepòl,
Pou zòt ka banbile nan peyi metropòl.
Lesklavaj se degoutans!

I come from Africa, the land of my father;
From the French, Hispanic and English ships,
I landed in the Americas, the unfamiliar land.
This is Haiti, this is my story.

 We come from Africa with our strong religion,
With bamboos, with drums, with all our souls.
Right when we debarked, the villains muted us,
They swore a thousand times they would convert me.

 They did all they could to make us lose our mind,
To forget about our ancestors in Africa,
And impede our words of Liberty,
Words of Equality, Words of Dignity.

We spent three hundred years under the chains of slavery;
Night and day we struggled with work,
Carrying loads on our heads, loads on our shoulders,
For others to rejoice in the metropolitan lands.
Slavery is revulsion!


Men depi premye jou, nou toujou ap batay,
Pou nou kapab soti nan tout vie deblozay.
Nou batay, nou lite, tankou chen anraje,
Nou pote la viktwa yon jou premye janvye.

 Delivrans se endepandans!

 Devan gro koze sa, malveyan yo sezi;
Lesklavaj dechouke nan peyi d’Ayiti.
Paske tout moun se moun anwo latè beni,
Nou pa dwe aksepte pou fè yon lòt soufri.

 Delivrans se endepandans!

 Gran Mèt’la te kreye lèzòm egal ego;
Nan fonkè’m, nan nanm mwen, mwen li paròl sa yo.
Si yon mechan konprann pou fè’n pèdi la kat,
N’ap toujou angaje yon lòt  “dizuisankat” (1804).

 Nan pwen nesesite pou gro vale piti,
“Sa’k pa bon pou manman, li pa bon pou bèlmè”.
Si nou vle gen la pè, nou dwe viv tankou frè.
“Men anpil, chay pa lou”, se deviz Ayiti.

 Delivrans se endepandans!

Thus from the first day, we have been fighting,
To free ourselves from all dreadful chaos.
We fought, we struggled like raging dogs,
We were victorious one fine January day.

Liberty is freedom!

The villains were stunned by this phenomenon;
Slavery was vanquished in the country of Haiti.
Because we are all citizens of this blessed earth,
We must not tolerate suffering unto others.

Liberty is freedom!

The Almighty created all men equal;
Deep in my heart, in the depths of my soul, I read these words.
If a villain thinks he can take away our dignity,
We will always engage another “eighteen-o-four” (1804).

 There is no need for the strong to abuse the weak,
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
If we want peace, we must live like brothers.
“With many hands, the load is light”, that is Haiti’s slogan.

 Liberty is freedom!


“Nou kouri pou lapli, nou tonbe larivyè”.
Nou batay di, Elas! “Lave men siy’atè”.
Lénmi yo fè konplo ak prop pitit lakay,
Pou foure dignite’n nan mitan yon sak pay.

De san zan deroule depi l’Endepandans.
Malveyan yo kanpe, yo di tou sa se rans;
Nou vire ron pi mal pase yon vye toupi,
Kote’n prale pi lwen pase kote’n soti.

Timoun ape mouri, granmoun ape kriye;
Tout bagay tèt anba, nan pwen bouch pou pale.
N’ape rele “Anmwe!” N’ap rele “O sekou!”.
Peyi’a kilbite! Ayiti anba kou!

 Jou va, jou vyen, zanmi; n’ap toujou kenbe fèm;
Lesklavaj an premye, Delivrans an dezyèm.
Jodia n’ap kenbe avèk Pèseverans,
Pou nou pote byen wo drapo l’Endepandans.
Jodia se Pèseverans!

 -Gabriel T. Guillaume

“We ran to get out of the rain, and fell in the river”.
We fought hard, Alas! “Washing our hands and wiping them dry in the dirt”.
The enemies made plans with some of our own children,
So they could shove away our dignity.

Two hundred years have gone by since our Freedom.
The villains declared that this is all nonsense.
We’ve turned in circle worse than an old spin top,
Where we are going is farther than where we come from.

Children are dying, adults are crying;
Everything is upside down, we are at a lost of words.
We are yelling “Help!” We are screaming “Save us!”
Our country has collapsed! Haiti is getting battered!

Days come and go, my friend; we will always hold tight.
Slavery came first, our Freedom came second.
Today we keep going with Perseverance,
And put up with pride the flag of our Freedom.
Today we Persevere!

Twa Tanbou (Creole – English Translation)

Twa Tanbou 
Kap fè yon diskisyon
Yon gwo dimanch maten
Lè yo sot nan Ginen

 Yon Ti Kata
Yon Tanbouren
Yon Gwo Boula

 Boula rete li di
Li di li ka frape pi fò
Boula rete li di
Se li ki ka frape pi fò 

Tanbouren di li gen pi bèl son
Li di “lè map site, se rete tande”

 Kata ki tap koute, li rete li move
Li pa te ka konprann kouman de kamarad,
Ki abiye ak menm rad
Ki pitit menm manman
Chita ap fè deblozay

 Yon bon jou Madigra, Kata tonbe zouke
Dènye moun ki te la yo tout tonbe danse…

Tanbouren ak Boula kite la ap tande
Pou fè fèt la pi bèl: yo tou fon ribanbèl

 Jou sa-a
Yo chante yon chante ke’m pap janm bliye:

 Tout tanbou ki dispèse
An nou kole zepòl
Poun fè la vi pi bèl

-Louis Marie Celestin

Three drums
Are having an argument
A great Sunday morning
On their way back  from Guinea

A little Kata…
A little Tanbouren…
A big Boula… 

Boula declared
That he can hit the loudest
Boula declared
“I can hit the loudest!”

 Tanbouren said “I have the most beautiful sound”
He said “when I perform, keep quiet and listen!”

 Kata who was hearing all this became angry
He could not comprehend how two soldiers
Who are dressed with the same outfit
And are children of the same mother
Are sitting around making a scandal

 One fine Mardi-Gras day, Kata started to “zouk”
Every single person there began to dance…

 Tanbouren and Boula who were there listening
To make the party more exciting, they started a great throng

 That day,
They all sang a song that I’ll never forget:

 All drums that are dispersed
Let’s put our shoulders together
To make life more beautiful

Diplomasi (Creole to English – Poetic Translation)


Mwen salwe’ou, zanmi,
Nan mitan gro l’onè.
W’a reponn mwen, tanpri,
Avèk anpil respè.
Nan lakou moun de byen
Se konsa sa pase… Onè – Respè!

Ou gen respè pou mwen, mwen bay l’onè pou ou;
N’a va chita koze tankou de moun damou.
“Bonjou mesye, bonjou madanm;”
Sa se lizay nan peyi pa’m.

Nanpwen joure, nanpwen batay;
Manke dega se deblozay.
Ou resevwa’m ak tout kè’ou,
Ak tout kè mwen mwen vini tou.

 Onè – Respè, sa se lizay;
Diplomasi, se bon bagay!


I salute you, my friend,
With the utmost honour.
You shall answer me, please,
With the utmost respect.
In the homes of good people
That is how it’s done… Honour and Respect!

 You show respect for me, I give honour to you;
We shall sit and chat like two lovebirds.
“Good day, sir. Good day, madam;”
These are good manners in my country.

 There is no cursing, there is no fighting;
Coarseness is uproar.
You welcome me with open heart,
I shall enter with all my heart.

 Honour and Respect, that is the way;
Diplomacy, that is the key!


Je gade toupatou, je pa wè tout bagay.
Bouch manje tout manje, bouch pa di tout pawòl.
Zòrey ki koute, se zòrey ki tande;
Koute se yonn, tande se yon lòt.

 Ou bezwen tande byen,
Se p’ou koute byen.
Ou pale, mwen koute.
Mwen koute, mwen tande.

 Mezanmi: Koute – Tande.
Anvan ou tonbe pale,
Koute – Tande.


You look, but you do not see everything.
You speak, but you do not say all.
Those who have ears, may you listen;
Hearing is one thing, listening is another

To listen well,
You must hear well.
When you speak, I will hear.
I will hear, and I will listen.

 Friends: Hear, and Listen.
Before you begin to speak,
Hear, and Listen.


Men ale – Men vini, sa kenbe lamitye.
Ou gen kabann pou vann,
Mwen gen dra pou achte.
Vwazinay se fanmi,
Bon kont fè bon zanmi.

 Kouto mèt byen file, li pa grate manch li.
Moun ki konn pataje pap janm mouri grangou.
Vive la Diplomatie! Vive la Fraternité!

3. GIVE and TAKE

A little Give and Take upholds a friendship.
You have beds to sell,
I have beddings to buy.
Neighbors are family,
Good riddles make good friends.

 The knife may be sharp, it never scrapes its handle.
Those who always share never die of hunger.
Long lives Diplomacy! Long lives Fraternity!

Fèt Chanpèt (Creole – English Translation)

“Beng, beng, beng”, mwen tande “beng”,
Klòch sonnen “beng”,
Me mwa Jiyè fè “beng” nan dènie almanak,
Tout timoun delivre, Pwofesè kraze rak,
Nan tout kwen peyi-a, dènie lekòl lage!

 Tout pèleren pare; se sezon Fèt Chanpèt!
Banbòch la kòmanse, toupatou se bèl fèt!

 Anpil moun debake nan Lakou Migonga;
Poul, kòdenn ak kanna
Fè ribanbèl nan lakou-a.

Papa ak gran papa, frè ak sè reyini,
Vwazinay ak zanmi, nou tout fon sèl fanmi.
Wi tout sa se lizay nan Peyi d’Ayiti.

 Labapen, Pitimi, Kann kale fè kenken,
Mango ak zaboka tonbe tout lajounen.

 Lavèy, se boule bwa,
Demen, se mès dizè.
Tout moun ap selebre:
Viv la Sen Jak Majè! Se Fèt Chanpèt!

 Ala yon bèl epòk’o,
Se la jwa, se la fèt!
Apre La Plèndinò, se tou pa Limonad.
Se sezon Fèt Chanpèt!
Nou tout n’ape chante,
N’ape rele: “Beng, beng, beng”!

“Beng, beng, beng”,
N’ap rele “beng”,
N’ap chante “beng”,
An nou fete jouk sa kaba!

 “Beng, beng, beng”!
N’ap fete “beng”!
N’ap rele “beng”!
N’ap chante “beng”!
Klòch la sonnen “beng”!

 Me mwa Jiyè fè “beng” nan dènie almanak…
Se Fèt Chanpèt, nan pwen konsa!

 – Gabriel T. Guillaume

“Ding, ding, ding”, I hear “ding”,
The bell strikes, “ding”
The month of July strikes “ding” on all the calendars.
All the children are free, Teachers are gone,
In all corners of the country, school is out!

 All the pilgrims are ready; it’s the frivolous party season!
The feast has begun, everywhere it’s part time!

 Many have arrived at Lakou Migonga.
Chickens, turkeys and ducks
Are carousing in the yard.

Fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters are gathered,
Neighbors and friends, we all make one family.
These are all customs in the country of Haiti.

 Artocarpus incisa, Millet, Sugarcanes are flourishing.
Mangos and Avocados are falling all day long.

 The night before, it’s wood burning,
The next day, it’s the ten a.m. Mass.
Everyone’s celebrating:
Hail to Saint James the Great! It’s “Fèt Chanpèt”!

 Oh, what a beautiful season,
It’s joy, it’s festivity!
After Plaine-du-Nord, at Limonade we party some more.
It’s the frivolous party season!
We are all singing,
We are all yelling out: “ding, ding, ding”!

 “Ding, ding, ding”,
We are yelling “ding”,
We are singing “ding”,
Let’s party until the very end!

“Ding, ding, ding”!
We party “ding”!
We yell “ding”!
We sing “ding”!
The bell strikes “ding”!

The month of July strikes “ding” on all the calendars…
It’s “Fèt Chanpèt”, there’s none like it!


Brainerd Blyden-Taylor


D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor is the Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada’s first professional chamber choir dedicated to the creation, preservation, and performance of Afrocentric choral music of all genres. Mr. Blyden Taylor has worked extensively as an educator at the university, public school, and community levels; and was awarded the degree Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from York University, Toronto for his service to education. He is in demand as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer, both nationally and internationally. Mr. Blyden-Taylor is also an active and dedicated church musician.

Dakota Scott-Digout


Originally from Nova Scotia, Toronto-based pianist Dakota Scott-Digout has been heard in recital across North America as both a collaborator and soloist, gaining praise particularly for his performances of chamber music and art song. Dakota serves on the artistic team of the Toronto Children’s Chorus, the VOCA Chorus of Toronto, and The Nathaniel Dett Chorale; and has enjoyed collaborations with the Elmer Iseler Singers and That Choir. Recent projects have included an ongoing collaboration with Echo Chamber Toronto in their production A World Transformed, which intertwines art song and chamber music with dance. Additionally, Dakota was a featured artist alongside soprano Tracy Cantin and tenor Marcel d’Entremont during Debut Atlantic’s 2022/2023 concert season. Dakota is highly sought after in Toronto as a collaborative pianist, clinician, and serves as a pianist for voice performance classes at the University of Toronto.

Dakota holds degrees in piano performance from Université de Montréal and Mount Allison University. Currently, he is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Toronto where he was named the 2020 winner of the Gwendolyn Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying, awarded to the top collaborative pianist at the Faculty of Music. He has further refined his skills at the Orford Music Academy, Barachois Summer Music Festival, Musique sur Mer with pianist Susan Manoff, and was an Art of Song Fellow as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival in the summer of 2021. His principal teachers have included Stephen Runge, Jimmy Brière, and Steven Philcox. Particularly passionate about French vocal repertoire, Dakota’s research interests are centred around early twentieth century performance practice and the mélodies of Gabriel Fauré.

Jurij Konje


Jurij Konje came to music naturally at an early age. He has written for a wide array of instruments. His focus on percussion has guided his development throughout his career. As a performer Jurij has graced many a stage – classical, world, and popular alike. As soloist his focus is reputable and clear. Across the genres his sounds are a testament to precision that resonates. For Jurij, rhythm is a force within that sets the standard for inspiration and a legend for the map of music that is drawn by his statements in a new direction.

Jurij’s performance credits range in style from orchestral to alternative. They include the Brandenberg Ensemble, University of Toronto Percussion Ensemble, Flaming Dono Drum and Dance Ensemble, Autorickshaw, and By Divine Right. His music has been performed by The Orpheus Choir of Toronto, Janus 21, and percussion ensembles such as Humdrum, Attaca, and Tabu. Jurij has recorded CDs with many other artists, and to date has three of his own, entitled Flux, Walkabout, and Ambush.

This music is an exciting addition to his repertoire and combines an interesting mix of acoustic and electronic sounds. His voice can be heard as steady and subtle which, in combination with his music, makes for a compelling listen. Jurij has amassed an arsenal of instruments from across the globe, which are captured in these recordings Jurij’s visual art is an extension of his musical voice; with colour, he is painting to a prism that speaks volumes. Every one of his recordings features his artwork on the cover and explores the balance of the virtual within the literal.

Gideon Akafuna Sifuba


Gideon Akufuna Sifuba is an African drummer and percussionist, born in Zambia and later immigrating to Canada. He is also a gifted composer and vocalist, and an alumnus of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale.

Akufuna graduated with honours from York University, Toronto, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts specialising in vocal music, also earning a Bachelor of Education specialising in instrumental music. He is currently working on a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership.

Akufuna has worked as a music teacher in many locations, such as W. C. Miller Collegiate in Altona, Manitoba; Muheim Elementary in Smithers, British Columbia; and Netsilik School in Taloyoak, Nunavut. Akufuna has also held the position of Education Director at Urban Circle Training Center, working with Indigenous youth. He has worked for Shamattawa Education Authority in Northern Manitoba as Vice Principal and is currently the Vice Principal at Poplar River First Nations School.

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale


The multi-faceted vocalists of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale perform all styles and genres of music as appropriate to the traditions of Africa and its Diasporas. The Chorale’s mission is to build bridges of understanding, appreciation, and acceptance between communities of people through the medium of Afrocentric choral music.

Founder D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor named The Nathaniel Dett Chorale after internationally renowned African Canadian composer R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) to draw attention to Dett’s legacy, to the breadth of Afrocentric choral music, and to be a professional choral ensemble where persons of African heritage can be well represented. Currently in its 25th Season, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale is also Artist in Residence at The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas at York University.

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale

Alida Doornberg
Kaisha Lee
Ineza Mugisha
Alison Ryan
Zyion Stephens
Jennifer Wilson 

Jenna Cowans
Alexandra Garrison
Zoitsa Gotziman
Sophie Mathis
Ianjai Mounsey-Ndemo

Nicholas Gough
Allen Mahabir
Galilei Njembo
William Salinas-Crosby
Adam Wicks

Wade Bray
Matheus Coelho
Martin Gomes
Andrew Gunpath
Ryan Moilliet
Aidan Reimer
Dérrell Woods

NDC Patrons


Beverley Bennett
Donald Clements
Sharon Conway
Sheila Flood
Robert Feldman
Alexandra Garrison
Gen Three Ltd.
Yola Grant
Patricia Harland
Wayne Horchver
Aaron Huntly
Stephen & Cheryl Holmes
Ellen Jaaku
Munjeera Jefford
Angela King
Stefan C. Laciak
Gerry Lavallee
Anne Layton & Jamie Isbister
Diana Massiah
John McCracken
Sarah & Mark Perry
Jane Ricciardelli
Celeste Richards
Jackman Family Foundation
Janet Roscoe
Alison Rose
Rita Sanford
Ruth Schembri
Jennifer Singh
Conrad Thomas
Alex Thomson
William Thomson
Six anonymous donors
One anonymous Foundation

Despite our best efforts to avoid errors and omissions, mistakes can occur. If your name is listed incorrectly, misspelled or missed inadvertently, we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused. We would appreciate being notified of any errors. Please send an e-mail to info@nathanieldettchorale.org