‘Your Raise Me Up’ Reimagined in Haitian Creole
Haitian-American singer-songwriter Malou Beauvoir seeks spiritual healing in a divided world with her Creole lyric version of the beloved Brendan Graham and Rolf Løvland composed hit “’You Raise Me Up’.
‘Kenbem’ reimagines the soul-stirring classic previously released by Secret Garden, Josh Groban and Westlife, to unite believers in Vaudou and Christianity.
“When I was a child my Mom would take me to Church every Sunday. Her kindness, integrity and tolerance have been my beacon all my life. My Dad, would tell us colourful “Vodou tales” full of fiery spirits, funny songs and the memories he had left behind with his childhood in Haiti. Our frequent visits to his side of the family were my introduction to Vodou. Colourful candles and candies for the spirits adorned the altars in Brooklyn and Haiti.
Prayers were said to the Saints and the spirits indiscriminately and I never thought that there was a choice to be made between my Vodou culture and my mother’s faith, I still don’t.
My Creole lyrics speak to God, our Ancestors and our Spirits, thanking them all for their for support and love.” – Malou Beauvoir
‘You Raise Me Up’ was originally released in 2002 by the Norwegian-Irish duo Secret Garden, written by the band’s Rolf Løvland with lyrics by the Irish author and songwriter Brendan Graham. A year later, Josh Groban’s version climbed to the #1 spot on the Billboard adult contemporary chart followed by Westlife’s UK No.1 and Record of the Year cementing the song’s status as a modern classic. It’s since become a hit many times over around the world, covered by more than a 1,500 hundred artists in over 40 languages.
Beauvoir heard something new and personal in the song, however. In her interpretation of Graham’s lyrics, she found parallels to the schism between Vodou practitioners and the Christian church in Haiti, the country of her roots. The divide is deep-seated, dating back to the Haitian Revolution at the turn of the 19th century.
When Beauvoir reached out to Graham for permission to rewrite his lyrics in Creole and with this new interpretation, she was surprised to find that he had written the song with similar ancient antipathies in mind. “I told Brendan that I’d stayed fairly close to his original version, but instead of the open-ended spiritual force that he talks about, I wanted to make the first verse about those who believe in the Christian God and the second one about those who believe in the spirits and the ancestors. He responded, ‘I’m going to tell you something really strange, Malou. I’m Irish, and when I wrote this song I was thinking about our ancient beliefs.’”
Graham appreciated the heartfelt interpretation, saying, “A song like ‘You Raise Me Up’ thankfully garners many recordings and translations into various languages. Now and again a version comes along that makes me sit up and pay attention. Such a version is Malou Beauvoir’s recording and translation into her native Haitian Creole. Not alone is it her sensual and soulful vocal expression of the song but she has also done something quite unique. Her translation takes the ambiguous ‘you’ of the song and imbues it with meaning from her own heritage and Vodou culture, in a way that mirrors my own understanding of the ‘you’ and its relation to a pre-Christian, Celtic culture.”