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Guillaume, Raoul

Raoul Guillaume, born on December 7, 1927, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was destined for a life immersed in music. Born to Siéyès Guillaume and Francesca Hermantin, he inherited a rich musical heritage from his father, a talented trumpeter and the first Haitian mandolinist. His father's influence sparked Raoul's passion for music and set him on a path of musical exploration and innovation.

Growing up, Raoul attended Saint-Louis de Gonzague for both his primary and secondary education. It was here, under the guidance of Brother Léon, that his musical journey truly began. Encouraged by his father, Raoul embraced the alto saxophone and became integral to the school's brass band. During these formative years, he forged lifelong friendships with fellow musicians such as Nono Lamy, Guy Durosier, and Serge Lebon.

As he honed his skills, Raoul found himself drawn to the vibrant music scene of Port-au-Prince. Inspired by the performances of renowned musicians at the Champ de Mars bandstand, he delved deeper into the world of music, exploring various genres and styles.

In 1949, as Port-au-Prince celebrated its Bicentennial, Raoul's passion for music blossomed alongside the city's cultural renaissance. Alongside fellow musicians like Guy Durosier, he sought to preserve and promote Haiti's rich musical heritage, collecting and arranging songs that reflected the nation's soul.

Despite the political turmoil that gripped Haiti in the following years, Raoul remained dedicated to his craft. Forced into exile in New York due to the oppressive regime, he continued to pursue his musical aspirations, forming a group and performing at various venues across the city. However, his outspokenness against the dictatorship led to a violent attack, resulting in a lengthy hospitalization.

Upon his return to Haiti in 1972, Raoul embarked on a mission to revitalize the country's music scene. From operating gas stations to opening his accounting office, he never strayed far from his true passion. He created and directed the National Radio Orchestra, released numerous records, and championed young talent through music competitions sponsored by American Airlines.

Throughout his life, Raoul Guillaume remained committed to his ultimate dream: preserving and promoting Haitian music on a global scale. His compositions, deeply rooted in the rhythms and themes of Haitian life, have been embraced by musicians worldwide. Yet, despite his international acclaim, Raoul's music always belonged to the people—to Haiti and its rich cultural tapestry.









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