Joe Jacques (born on May 25 1936, in Gonaives) is known as, a teacher, musician, singer, lyricist, keyboardist and accordionist. Blind at birth, Joe Jacques has never seen a sunrise but has illuminated our existence. St-Vincent of Port-Au-Prince was the first institution that he attended. From 1955 to 1959, he enrolled at the Perkins School for the blind in Boston, Massachusetts. Then, he went back to Haiti. For 11 years, Joe Jacques served as an English teacher and was, at one point, part of Haitian American Institute faculty.
Music has always occupied a predominant role in Joe's life. For Joe Jacques, music represents the surest bridge between him and the cold world. Likewise, through that bridge, we have entered Joe-Jacquesville and Blindville.
In 1972, while vacationing in New-York, realizing his calling to minister through music, he became a professional musician. With his sacred accordion and his melodious voice, he has consistently surpassed our expectations. Timidite, Profese lekol, Ma petite, and la derniere fois, are pillars of his bridge. Like the American blues, he was singing about his love, suffering, tribulation, regrets, and hopes. With great clarity, uncanny wit and superb elegance, he took a lot of us to desolate areas of existence. His lyrics brought us humility, reverence, and feelings of gratitude.
Contrary to public opinion, Garry Talent, lead singer of Moonkool stated that, "his songs offer us solely inklings of his enigmatic world. Only a selected few could really reach Joe Jacques place. Joe-Jacques Ville is merely accessible since it is not a geographical place, but a different way of looking at things".
There are a few other people that express discontent about his melancholic undertone. However, his reality remains his reality. Joe Jacques, instead of being apologetic, prefers to attribute his melancholic expression to his long standing state of denial. His old songs, according to him, were evocative of his reluctance to accept his blindness. Since then, he came to terms with himself. Enthusiastically, with his new sense of self, he claims that if he has to write more songs, his focus will be more on human relations and communications.
With tact and empathy, we asked Joe Jacques to enumerate the first three things that he would like to see if he suddenly becomes sighted. Instantly, he mentioned: the sky, sunrise, rainbow and the beautiful women. Ultimately, however he assures us that one can only see through the heart. Things that some of us take for granted are delicacies for others.
In sum Joe Jacques with his inviting welcome and the particularity of his songs is considered by many as a national hero and will certainly be immortalized for his resolve, his perseverance and his success against all odds.
- Paul Sanon -