The first time I personally heard of Tifane, I was listening to her song with Stan called “Bel Moun.” I thought that her style was different, and her voice captivating. Also, she revealed to be, and still is, an authentic kind of person: true to herself no matter what. The latest news was that she took some time off to build a family. However, now, she’s back better than ever. In fact, it’s like she was never gone.
Tifane songs are very touching and meaningful; and “bèl moun” figures on that list, in my opinion. With all of that being said, I’ll let you, guys, enjoy the interview and read about her journey from Tifane then and now .
P.S: I teared up reading her interview.
Who is Tifane?
I’m an Artist who wears many hats. I’m a mother, a wife, an older sister to 2 brilliant siblings, and I consider myself to be an activist.
Tifane, how would you describe your style as a singer?
I’ve been placed in several categories, but I can confirm that I am a worldbeat music singer with an Afro-Caribbean style. I do have a hint of rhythm and blues in my way of singing ballads and that’s probably because of the type of music I was exposed to growing up. My father and his older brother are big on blues and jazz
Outside of music what is another passion of yours?
It might be strange to say it, but children are my passion next to music. Their brains, their imagination, their innocence, and the crazy things they say and do. They are the most entertaining people I know. Those who really know me will tell you I get passionate when I talk about defending children’s rights or speaking up against child abuse. Nature comes second. I’m a tree hugger. Whenever I can, I pause to hear birds sing, or to enjoy a nice sunset, a full moon and as an Island girl, the ocean is my friend. I try my best to pass that to my kids. I’ve made many attempts to get the youth in Haiti involved in protecting the environment by starting to nurture a plant. It was seriously difficult, but I’ll give it another try. I have song on behalf of the planet on my next album, I hope it works
You have been in this industry for quite some times now. What is one thing you wished you could change, and why?
One thing for sure is that I learned a lot. When I came into this business, this slippery field, I quickly realized I was joining a boys’ club. Things happened so fast that my mom became my manager overnight and we had to stand our ground to impose my demands and to get paid what I deserved. There was a tendency to lessen my cut compared to my male colleagues with whom I shared the same popularity if not more. I build my career from many long nights of hard work and long rehearsals, troubles with unreliable musicians, investing my own hard-earned money into my image, my band, my music. I wish I had done more in that department and not help so many people to “manage their budget,” like they’d ask me sometimes.
Can you put into words what music means to you?
That’s hard to do. I just know that when I took some time off and worked during my pregnancies at the time I felt like I was joining the “normal” world and the fire inside of me was dying. For a real artist, a struggling one or a successful one, life without music feels less than average. There’s creating it and performing on stage for a dancing crowd. Once I’m there I’m off to an extremely happy place. Music makes me feel relevant, present, alive. I can name a song for each special part of my life, sad or happy. The best part of it is having people tell me why they love my songs, what impact it has on them and mostly how one song helped them through hard times.
So many young kids in our culture look up to you, what’s the best advice you can give them?
I find it interesting that some kids were not old enough to go out when I started but they keep up with what I do, where I am, how I look. Girls who tell me they embrace their natural beauty, their culture because of how my look and how I dress, put a little pressure on me. I always make sure to tell them to remain true to themselves and not let their beauty get in their heads. I do mean well when I write, so to those who want to pursue a career in music I always tell them not to make it an alternative to education. We need educated and cultivated young people to sing and compose to enlighten and uplift. We can’t all sing and talk about sex, money, and parties. I have nothing against those who do but nowadays we need some food for the soul, heart, and spirit.
You have collaborated with so many artists. Who else do you wish to collaborate with?
That’s a big question. If I ever get to sing one verse with Jill Scott, Dadou Pasquet, or A Keys, I’m set. I’ve also wanted to have a song with Jah Cure or Tarrus Riley something about their voices is unapologetically rough yet warm to the ear. I’ve had my eyes and ears on some fresh talent from Tanzania, but I can’t say too much about that because it’s already in the making we’ll soon be shocking the fans (smiles).
What inspires you when you write a song?
It could be something I heard someone say, the news, a personal experience, an argument, or a fresh thought that carried a message I feel the need to share. Other times, some songs come to me in the middle of my dreams. Most of the times, I’m heavily asleep and I can hear the melody in my head. When that happens, I must wake up and record it on my phone otherwise I will not remember anything about it in the morning.
This business can be rough, how do you manage to keep going?
It’s bittersweet. I took a 3-year break to build a family and then I realized that the HMI classified me as “permanently on maternity leave”. Some people blatantly told me they thought I was done because I’m a mother now. My turn off is the lack of discipline in some event organizers and the lack of respect for what entertainers like me do. I’ve also reached a point in my life where I really can’t be content with just being popular or having a hit song only in Haiti. So, I developed a business side of me by my second album “Sous la peau” as my fiance (at the time was the executive producer) and I invested a lot. I decided that if I’m going to stay in business, some things will have to be different musically and financially. I think that reaching my goal to bring Haitian music to other countries pushes me to break fake limits such as creole creates a language barrier, or that Kompa is the only style of Haitian music the rest of the world wants to hear from us. So, I’m back and I found my fans who waited patiently. I go for those contracts that will help me expose other nations to our traditional rhythms mixed with some Tifane. That’s how I keep going.
Your songs have impacted us a lot throughout the years, which one is your personal favorite?
That’s like asking me which one of my babies is my favorite. Each one touches me differently. I’m very proud of “Sekre a “and “Regle Zafe w” because they’ve become anthems. I’m grateful to “Se Kom si” because it launched my career thanks to Boulo Valcourt whom I love deeply. It’s a song about someone I was having a beautiful and tough relationship with prior to his departure for the war in Iraq. It was hard being his girlfriend, so I wrote a poem, that’s how “Se Kom Si” came about. But once all that turned completely sour I wrote “Si w te la” and produced it years later. These 2 are my most personal ones and my favorites.
Women empowerment is something that you don’t come across these days. Why do you think women are threatened by other women?
When it comes to the music industry, I think it’s a great thing that we have more women doing their thing. I do feel like my story has a lot to with that because many of them are younger than me and they saw that I succeeded. They know they can too. That’s amazing to me because when I started I was always the one girl of my generation between Belo, Mika, BIC, JeanJean Roosevelt, Jah Nesta in our category. Misty Jean was alone in the Kompa’s. I understand that as a woman, I can stand for all the causes women of my country face, but I also know that because of who I am and what I stand for, many might not relate to me. Maybe I don’t sing about their lifestyle. I think women feel threatened by other women in the business from fear of being replaced and forgotten. I can’t allow myself to fear that because I know the value of what I have at home once the show is over. We must encourage the diversity and not fear each other.
The feminism movement is growing more and more every day. What are your takes on it? Would you consider yourself a feminist?
I’m just going to be brutally honest on this one. I am a feminist without being a man-hater. That means I can change my flat tire by myself but if I can’t pick up something heavy, I will ask a stronger man or woman to do it without feeling weak. I believe I should get paid just as much as a man does for the same job. I believe that as a woman, my instinct is much better and quicker than a man’s, that it’s my body, my decision. I believe that we each, men and women have our own tools and features to complete one another. Unfortunately, we are caught up in stereotypes. I was taught that no one based on their ethnicity, social status, and gender is superior or inferior to me but that I’m beautiful, smart, and priceless. I think feminism has so many colors that even us women feel like we must pick one to call ourselves feminist. When it comes to the unfair way women are being treated to get what they’ve worked hard for, the #timesup #metoo that are going viral are not feminist revolutions but a human rights movement.
Now that you are a mom, how has motherhood changed you?
I’m in love with motherhood. I’m always tired but I still have energy. One time I had to breastfeed my baby backstage right after my show. I say this with sarcasm, but It’s magical! My boys are super entertaining, wise and goofy like their parents. They just don’t really look like me and I’ve accepted that. Since I became a mother, I’ve been fierce, hungrier when it comes to my success. I absolutely refuse to let my talent go to waste and not leave something significant to my children. I don’t sing just to be a star. I sing to inspire them, I stay afloat to show them that my dream didn’t stop with giving birth. They are my new motivation. They’re still very little, only the oldest is realizing that his mom is known and have fans. He only calls me Tifane when he sees me on TV or on stage. Sometimes he’s not impressed at all because I don’t sing his Marvel’s theme songs, and I don’t sing with Bruno Mars. The youngest, Ayeelo, is a percussionist/singer and Giyani, a guitarist/singer/dancer. I’m going to need some vitamins to keep up
Haiti is always in the middle of some controversial conversation, why is that?
We Haitians need therapy from years of not being ok. We are addicted to the notion of loving the country, but we don’t really know what that really means and what it takes. Some of us are willing to sell out and make some money to save ourselves. Others are genuinely trying to build a life. The land is extremely beautiful, mysterious, rich in natural resources, but it’s not respected. Our lack of knowledge plays a big role in our perils. While we’re unable to see the benefits in progressing collectively, we hurt each other financially, physically, and emotionally. All that makes it easier for foreigners with bad intentions to help us dig our own hole.
What can we do to leave a better Haiti for the generation to come?
That notion of pride that Haitians have an exhibit on social media is very contradicting. If we changed our way of behaving and cheating, we’d fix some of our problems. The upcoming generation needs us to lead by example. We can’t force them to love Haiti if we don’t clean it, nurture, and respect it. Haiti’s biggest obstacles are its people because they’re not mentally healthy and are oblivious to that fact. We’ve been through so much for so long. A family with a vicious cycle will pass it on. Someone needs to check us into rehab or these kids will pick up where we’ll leave off.
What’s next for Tifane musically or anything she might be passionate about?
I’m very excited about my new material. There’s a feeling of “Meant to be” throughout this journey. Things just fall into place. I will have a few good years of touring coming up. I do have difficulties making some things happen as I wish, but I know it’s also part of the job. I found out how many parts of Africa my music has touched, so I’m happy about my guest Artists on this next album. Many know me for my Afrocentric style and how I embrace natural beauty. I’ve been looking at a few brands to endorse for hair and skin care. They are all owned by women and some support the Haitian economy. I went back to Belgium and I saw so many beautiful African women bleaching their skin. It reminded me of the girls in my country going through the same thing. That is why I feel strongly about standing for beauty products for women of color.
You recently went to Haiti to work with ATys Panch on educating the youth about treating their peers that might have health issues with more kindness. Can you tell us more about the project and why is it important to you?
I was named Goodwill Ambassador for the integration of people with disabilities in the Haitian society since 2009. I’ve remained close to the Office of the Secretary of State in charge to help them campaign for equality and against discrimination. As we know, children and adults with any physical or mental disability are always considered to be less useful to our society. I use music to spread the word about their rights and needs. Atys Panch has generously turned a speech impediment into comedy. He made it entertaining and not something to be ashamed of. I invited him to join me because I knew kids who stutter would relate. I still have a lot to do for this cause. More children with handicaps need to attend school and more adults need to have a chance at a normal life
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I never talk about it, but what people don’t know is that I’m clairvoyant. I’ve had many dreams that came true, some bad ones too. I was afraid of that part of me until I finally accepted it. As if getting songs in my sleep wasn’t odd enough.
It is a tradition for me to ask anyone who I am interviewing if they have one last thing they would like to say to my audience. Do you have a message or anything that you think my readers would like to know about you?
I’d like to thank you for reaching out to me. To your readers, those who already knew me and those who just found out about me, I’d like to invite them to check out my website www.tifanemusic.com. They can stream and buy my songs. They can find out more about me, what I’m up to and even contact my manager for bookings. I’ve been performing since 2016 after my 3-year break. Many people keep asking if I’m back. So yes. I’ve been back for good and not just for concerts and festivals. It’s a pleasure to see my fan base grow daily on all my social networks. I want them to know that I do have new material in the works, some are completed but nothing will come out until it’s beautifully prepared from the marketing to the release. I got about 20 more years to go. I am not done.
All pictures are from her Instagram @tifane_haiti
Thank you so much for the interview . I’m so happy to have you on the blog . Hoping that young boys and girls will learn a thing or two from you !
Lady Sergine 🌹💋