Zing Experience benefit concert
“For an hour on Sunday evening, a small party room in the luxury high-rise at 220 Riverside Boulevard was completely transformed, as an eclectic group of New Yorkers gathered to raise money for Haiti earthquake victims and groove to the Caribbean vibes of Haitian band Zing Experience. The benefiting group was Project Haiti, a small Norwegian organization running a school in the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. Luckily the school still stands, and has been transformed temporarily into a disaster relief center and shelter. Despite our new and tragic familiarity with Port-au-Prince, to most of us Haiti still seems a world away. Before the earthquake even many of us who had vacationed in the Dominican Republic had given little thought to the small, poverty-stricken country just a few miles to the west.
Zing Experience, consisting of Paul Beaubrun and Cynthia Casasola, brought the tragedy much closer to home. The Port-au-Prince-based partners traveled to New York, and had been planning on returning soon with their children to their home country, until the earthquake struck. Suddenly they found themselves stranded in Gotham, not knowing if their house was still standing, or who from their friends and family had survived the disaster. Although they didn’t say it, it was obvious that playing music was an escape for them, allowing them to forget the dire situation that they and their country face. When he first started to speak, Paul Beaubrun became very emotional. He promised that it wouldn’t happen again (not that it bothered anyone), and channeled that emotion into his music. Between the reggae and creole melodies Beaubrun would often bellow out a defiant “ayibobo!”, roughly translated as “hallelujah” or “blessed.” The crowd would enthusiastically respond, and then the show would go on.