Emerante de Pradines Morse: 1918-2018

Emerante de Pradines Morse: artist, educator, and social visionary.

Musician Richard Morse, the founder of the musical group RAM, wrote the following public statement about his mother: renowned singer, dancer, and folklorist Emerante de Pradines Morse. Born on Sep. 24, 1918, she died last week at Saint‑Esprit Hospital in Port‑au‑Prince at the age of 99. It is a fitting obituary for one of the giants of Haitian culture during the 20th century. – Kim Ives

My mom, Emerante de Pradines Morse aka Emy de Pradines, passed away peacefully on Jan. 4, 2018. She was born in 1918.

She was an artist and educator as well as a social visionary. She was a wife for 47 years, a mother to her children as well as to her brothers and sisters; she was a grandmother, aunt, and a Godmother. She was an inspiration, a mentor.

It would be hard to describe her career in a few paragraphs. She recorded internationally distributed records and CDs, she acted in theatre as well as movies, recited poetry, she’s been the subject of documentaries, sang on radio programs, danced and sang with Katherine Dunham, worked and studied with Martha Graham, taught or performed dance at her own dance schools, including The New Haven Dance Center, as well as academic institutions including the University of Puerto Rico, Yale Drama School, Connecticut College, Brown University, Harvard University, Bennington College, Westover Academy and Stanford University. Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Cuba…they all heard her voice. They all heard her story.

As many of us know, demonizing Afro Haitian culture (Vodou, Voodoo, Folklore, Racine) is a popular exercise enjoyed by Haitians as well as non-Haitians. Emerante de Pradines saw the beauty where others saw ugly. She saw knowledge where others saw ignorance. She saw the Good where others wanted to see Evil. She heard rhythms, songs, lyrics, messages, melodies, she saw choreographies, and she learned, she researched, she taught, she spread the Art. She de demonized a country and its culture in the eyes of the academic elite of the Western Hemisphere.

After all is said and done, all she really wanted in her final years was to recognize her father, singer, composer, social commentator, Auguste “Candio” de Pradines, and to educate the poorest of the poor in Haiti and introduce them to art, whether it be music, theatre, crafts or dance.

That was her final vision. Education and Art for the Poor.

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