Although the historical relationship between Haiti and New Orleans dates back for more than two hundred years, Krewe du Kanaval’s conception can be traced back to 2015, when Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, brought members of Preservation Hall to Haiti. Their experiences planted the seeds of a Mardi Gras krewe to celebrate the shared connections between the two cultures. “Wherever I go in New Orleans I feel Haiti,” says Chassagne. “The music I hear, the food I taste, the colors, the movement, the spirit of the city. Our Krewe aims to celebrate and strengthen this deep bond.”


Photo credit: Pableaux Johnson

“In New Orleans, Haitian culture is everywhere,” said Damas “Fanfan” Louis, a drummer and vodou priest from the Bel Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. “But the Haitian community,” he explained, “is invisible.” -Louisiana Weekly


Actor Jimmy Jean-Louis and Ben Jaffe at the Inaugural Krewe du Kanaval in 2018. Photo credit: Pableaux Johnson

Ben Jaffe, whose mother and late father founded the New Orleans’ musical mainstay Preservation Hallin 1961, adds, “There would be no New Orleans music without Haiti. It’s been one of the most important influences on New Orleans going back 200 years.”