Haitian master drummer and singer Lénord Fortuné, also known as Azor, died July 16. He was 46. Azor was given a state funeral and he was posthumously decorated by Haiti’s president Michel Martelly.
“Haiti has lost one of the most popular virtuosos of music of the past 50 years and a tireless Ambassador of Haitian culture,” said President Michel Martelly. “With Vodou music as a backdrop, the group that he led and which bears his name, Racine Mapou of Azor, traveled around the world and enabled all to discover the value of the music lakous (yard music) and the Haitian identity.
Thanks to him this music, entered in a long enclave, shows and is appreciated by millions in both Haitian and foreign music lovers.”
Lénord Fortuné was born June 19, 1965. He became one of the most popular musicians in Haiti and toured the world showcasing the traditional rasin (also known as racine) music and dances of Haiti. In addition, Azor’s music videos introduced Haitian music to wider audiences.
Azor played in several konpa bands (SS One and Scorpio) and folk group Bakoulou. He later joined Racine Kanga de Wawa. This band was one of the first to play Vodu music concerts. Azor later formed the influential band Racine Mapou de Azor, which legitimized Vodu music as an integral part of Haitian culture.
“A giant in Haiti, Azor was a master percussionist and a tireless ambassador of Haiti’s rich music and cultural traditions,” said Kaisha S. Johnson, Director of Touring Artists for New York’s Center for Traditional Music and Dance. “He was most widely credited with helping to further propel musik racine, the folkloric music of Haiti rooted in Vodu, and bringing racine to wider audiences on stages around the world. Last weekend a large, celebratory tribute featuring processional drumming was held in his honor at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York.“