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Meet Ramah Jihan Malebranche

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ramah Jihan Malebranche.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My mother was a Haitian journalist. When I was a boy, my mother and I were forced to abandon our home upon threats of violence by the Duvalier regime. We moved to Chicago and didn’t fit in. My formative years were spent writing music and poetry in my voice, addressing themes personal to me, with little interest in what would sell or sound popular. I recorded my first record, Natural Collection, in college with a band I named, Mothdust. I have been making music ever since.

I pay the bills by teaching and aspire to build a business to benefit the Haitian people.

Please tell us about your art.
I am an interdisciplinary media artist focusing on the disciplines of sound and music after studying classical guitar, audio engineering, and media in Illinois. Sound is the most amazing physical phenomenon to me and worthy of my time and energy as a human being.

I forward a singer-songwriter project, called Wooden Rings, which formed after a difficult divorce. Wooden Rings acted as an emotional life-boat for me for about three years but has developed into a more fully realized vehicle of expression exploring themes of separation from family and depicting attempts to fill that void by constructing new family. This project blends American folk, rock, and classical music as a setting for intimate, honest lyrics, which I believe expose the real me to myself, for others to witness.

I mostly write by ear and in waves of creativity and manic production, followed by long spells of processing what I’ve made. I find musicians who are strong enough to execute the music and contribute something of their own. We incubate the work then self-publish, release, and perform locally.

With my music I want to do three things:
1. Process pain and fear into something beautiful which others pay to experience
2. Catch a still glimpse of my honest self in an ever shifting landscape
3. Use recordings to capture or extend what I can afford to make with the little money I have

Naively, I choose rely on media and audiences the recognize the quality of my work and see my potential instead of speaking to the lowest common denominator.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
Nina Simone said -“You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”

I agree wholeheartedly. I envy that. My work almost never takes on overarching political, economic, and social trends. I feel like I do the opposite, working in miniature and in a very intimate interpersonal or solitary space.

No one has ever pumped their fist in the air in solidarity at my concerts. But some sit there and simply begins to cry. Then when I get off stage, they thank me.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?

To support, people can buy like and share our digital releases on Bandcamp, come to see us live, and purchase in our merchandise.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ana Munteanu

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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