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Sainte-Barbe jazz artist launches new album

The Valley has gained one more talented musician. Asaphe Micaelle Jean Louis, known by her stage name, Az, is a jazz musician who is originally from Haiti. In 2018 she moved to Canada and spent the first few years in Longueuil before moving to Sainte Barbe in July 2021. Earlier this summer, Sainte-Barbe was the location of the launch party for her new album. The party was attended by many, including Salaberry-Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille and Huntingdon MNA Claire Isabelle.

 

A woman with her dreads in an elaborate hairdo with a small moon crown poses for the camera in front of a blue background
Az performed at the launch party for her new album on July 23. The jazz artist has plans to tour the area later in the year. PHOTO Courtesy of Asaphe Micaelle Jean Louis

 

The decision to move to Sainte-Barbe was inspired by Az being a self-proclaimed “farm girl.” She moved to Canada with her husband and says they “wanted to find a place that was a bit more welcoming and where we can be close to people and be a part of the community.” After researching various areas outside Montreal, they came across the Valley and realized it was the kind of region they were looking for.

Az says she has been singing her entire life, though she is primarily self-taught. She has taken a few courses both in Haiti and Canada but learned from a young age to mainly teach herself. Growing up, she says she “always did music at places like church, cultural organizations, and at school and extracurriculars.” However, pursuing music as a profession wasn’t really presented as an opportunity when she was younger. “Unfortunately, in Haiti, it wasn’t really [available to me as] a career; my parents didn’t have the resources to help [me] create a career in music.” It was in 2015 that she really made the choice to follow her passion and turn music into a more serious pursuit.

Her stage name, Az, stems from a couple of different origins. Phonetically it sounds like the first syllable of her first name, Asaphe; it also represents the genre of music Az creates. Though she is mainly known as a jazz musician, she incorporates many styles of music into what she writes, so the name provides a cheeky way of saying that she does “a bit of everything, so it’s like music from A to Z.”

In July of 2022, Az released an album called Par Amour, which focuses on the theme of love and its power. This was her second album; it follows her 2019 record, Sonje. The process of recording Par Amour was extremely different from Sonje, which was recorded in Haiti. This time around she still collaborated with Haitian musicians, but she recorded her parts here in Canada where she had access to more technology. She’s very excited to be sharing an album that she feels so connected to. “On this album I gave it a bit more. It was really what I wanted to do and say… I aligned it with something that represented me.”

Az can be found on Instagram and Facebook at the handle @az.artiste. She currently has plans to perform at the Festivale Terre Ferme in Godmanchester in September, and to tour later in the fall. “I want to create a great show for the album which will be on tour, but that won’t be until about October or November.” For now, the best way to keep up with her events is through social media. Her music can also be found on various music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

To any musicians who are hoping to pursue their art as a career Az says, “Like everything in life it takes persistence and determination… Buckle down and see what comes from within so you can achieve your goals.” She is immensely grateful for the support she has received from the Valley and adds, “Thank you to the community and the people, especially the municipality of Sainte-Barbe, for their support and welcome.”

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