WHAT IS RARA?
Raras have been described as everything from “vodou
armies” to “underdog carnivals.” In the
process of researching and interviewing for this documentary,
practically everyone has had a different explanation of what
rara is and where it comes from.
In short, rara is an acoustic processional music from Haiti
associated with vodou, carnival, and social protest movements.
Rara’s have been known to head out walking for days
or even weeks, and cover up to a hundred miles through the
The most common story one hears from a “raraman”
or a “fanatique” is how, as a child, they heard
a rara passing, went out to see what was going on, and next
thing they knew it was hours later and they had danced their
way miles from home. There’s something unstoppable and
irresistible about rara that is completely impossible to explain.
Wesleyan University just launched an excellent research website
organized by the rara scholar Elizabeth McAlister:
Rather than duplicate their efforts, this site will periodically
post anecdotes and quotes from researching and interviewing
for this documentary. Check back for more...
Sasha Frere-Jones recent round table discussion in the NEW
YORKER MAGAZINE about rara music, featuring Edwidge Danticat
Haitian relief funds:
Coalition for Haitian Empowerment
Links to relief organizations for Gonaive floods
Culture and Music
Exhibit site from “Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou”
Support Group (news, events, resources)