The contrasts are stark: As Haiti grapples with chaos, death and despair after last month’s earthquake, celebrities party in luxurious fashion in preparation for a football game.
Wyclef Jean – who has been an advocate for his native Haiti since the disaster – was in Miami for those celebrations this week, and understands that the festivities won’t stop because of Haiti’s pain. But he said he’s partying with a purpose.
“(The) Super Bowl is Super Bowl. Super Bowl in Miami is one of the greatest Super Bowls,” Jean said last Saturday, a few hours before his performance at Eden Roc as part of fashion website 944’s weeklong Super Bowl bash.
“But something I love about Miami is like, they know how to party hard,” he added. “But at the same time, what was incredible to me was, somewhere in people’s head it’s like, ‘But let’s not forget Haiti’ at the same time, which is incredible.”
Indeed, stars have spoken out about Haiti during this week of decadence and raised funds for relief aid. last Friday night, Jean joined top celebrities like Diddy, Queen Latifah, Justin Bieber, Mary J. Blige and former President Bill Clinton in Miami for the BET cable television network’s SOS Saving Ourselves – Help for Haiti” telethon and concert.
Jean – who also was part of last month’s Hope For Haiti Now telethon that raised more than US$60 million – said last Friday’s event was key because it was “more geared to the youth.”
“It makes the Haiti situation a little hipper in the sense of, when you have Trey Songz wearing a ‘Yele Haiti’ T-shirt, then his fans think, ‘We can’t forget Haiti,’ or Justin Bieber,” he said.
Yele Haiti is Jean’s charity, which became the centre of a firestorm after the quake when financial irregularities were uncovered. Since then, Yele has gotten a new accounting firm, and Jean says the charity plans to introduce a new board in a couple of weeks.
“We’ve learned from the mistakes and we’re moving forward. It’s all about organisation,” Jean said. “I think moving forward, we will be one of the greatest NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to come out of Haiti because of the fact that we’re Haitian and we implement on the ground, and we know our people on the ground.”
While Jean helps rebuild his home country – a task he believes will take 25 years – he’s also still focused on his music.
“When you have drama, that’s when you have the best music,” he said, laughing. “That album’s almost finished. I think that will probably be the best Wyclef album, because there’s a lot to write about.”