Nowadays in the Haitian music industry, building relationships, learning the language of music business as much as you can, when you can, is your own genderless marketable edge. In the past, women were traditionally hired for talking or selling roles, such as PR and marketing.
One woman, that has nurtured relationships and now have as much power and opportunity for power as men, is Cynthia Karaha of World Music Promotions. Whether or not it’s a problem, the perceived lack of powerful women in the HMI is not as real as it is exacerbated, if we take a look of What Cynthia Karaha has achieved in the HMI over the years, which is considered to be a male dominated industry.
I’ve watched Cynthia at work for the past few years that I’ve known her, and I have seen professionalism and results. Whether, at MTV's productions department, whether it’s being Belo’s general manager and managed to have him booked around the world, to working tirelessly on Feet of Rhythm, Kiddie Carnival that is set to take place in a few weeks during the long Labor Day Weekend Festivities to now working as Emeline Michel's manager. Cythia Karaha is a beast behind the scene, she likes to keep a low profile, in working on high profile shows, such as La Nuit Des Jeunes. If you want to have a top notch show with the budget to back it up, you can't go wrong with Cybthia.
I had the opportunity to seat down with Cynthia in a 2 part interview to expand on this topic. Mrs Karaha is a good friend of mine, so I try to bring the best out of her in this interview.
HB -If someone came up to you on the street and asked...what do you do Cynthia? What would you tell them?
CK- First, I would like to thank Haitianbeatz for this interview. It is a rare treat for me, because I am always behind the scene.
I am an Apparel Design Director by day, and I work in entertainment (stage production, talent management and marketing) by night. I focus on the World Music Market.
HB -So, Cynthia, how did you begin your career in the entertainment field?
CK- Wow! That is a loaded question. I have to say the entertainment field was not my choice, and I can safely say it chose me. I can’t pinpoint how I begun in the entertainment field, so I am guessing it is genetic…lol.
The entertainment business is not only about music. The careers in the entertainment field include a wide variety of jobs in performing arts, dance, news writer, screenwriter, promotions, director, costume designer, hair stylist, make-up artist, set designer, actor, special effects, editor, director, composer, and photographer/camera operator and more.
I was lucky enough to be raised in a very artistic family, who not only had the talent, but also was successful. Entertainment was a family business, and everyone played apart. My dad, Jacques Karaha, was a singer in his 20’s, and later became a professional photographer (associated with Kodak), so there was a mini recording studio and photography lab at home, which was my playground…lol. My mom, Nadia Jacaman Karaha, is a hair stylist, and had her own salon at the Commodore Hotel in NY (42nd and Lex), which was very prestigious salon at the time. Her salon catered to American actors and musicians. My uncle, Dada Jacaman, was the owner and manager of Shleu Shleu. My grand uncles, Charles Karaha was an actor and his brother Georges Karaha was a drummer, radio host and sketch writer for Languichatte. My cousin Ti Charles Karaha is a comedian aka Afistol. My uncle Salim Jacaman had a talent booking agency in Montreal; need I say more…
I was told that I was a natural born dancer, so I was enrolled into dance classes at a very young age. Later on in life, I had the opportunity to perform on many big stages with artists like Taylor Dayne, Expose and downtown Julie Brown on MTV, and even had my shot on Broadway.
Growing-up in Haiti, I used to follow my uncle Dada everywhere, and dabbled in everything from helping to design t-shirt for Shleu-Shleu, attending rehearsals, and assisting my dad during the album covers photo shoots. I started putting small events “Kermesse” for my school, College Marie-Anne, when I was barely thirteen years old. These events were a lot of work, and I would be in charge of hiring the djs, coordinated the talents, securing the location, getting sound equipment, designing the stage/props and most of all promotions. At age fourteen, I was an event planner, and conceptualized prom graduations/Miss University events for other schools like St- Louis Gonzage, Lalue and College Bird etc., and even partake in the Queen and King Carnival parties. At sixteen, I was one of the first female promoter/event producer in Haiti. My first big accomplishment was being the co-producer alongside Master Dji of “The First Rap Concert” at the Gymnasium in Haiti, where I had the opportunity to work with Fabrice Rouzier (music producer extraordinaire). During the same time, I also would design costumes for shows and Carnival floats, so fashion was always a part of the entertainment package.
At eighteen, I came to New York to attend college, and somehow I managed to infiltrate myself into the American music scene, and promoting club parties weekly. Yet, I took my studies very seriously, I graduated in Pre-med and a minor in Computer Sciences. I was accepted into Medical school, but I realized my heart was not into becoming a doctor. At that point, I think I might have taking an unconscious decision to be in the entertainment field. I decided to go back to college to study Fashion Design, and followed it with a degree in Marketing, and another degree in Advertisement and Promotions. I even attended some technical program in sound engineering and stage production.
Many years later, here I am working in the entertainment field, which feels more like a hobby then a career. I love what I do, and I get paid for it too.
Article featuring Cynthia Karaha in the Fashion design industry
HB -Who are some of your clients? Past and present?
CK- I worked with many different artists at different levels as a designer for “MTV’s the Grind”. I had the chance to work on sets with Eric Nice, Amanda Lewis, Julie Brown, Shabba Ranks, Patra, Prince and more. I also worked as a stage producer for many Caribbean events at venues such as Madison Square Garden, Roseland, Apollo theater and Carnegie Hall. But I am sure you want to hear more about the artists from the HMI. I think it would be helpful to break it down a bit.
Band association range from Stage manager, Art Director, Dancer/Choreographer, talent Manager, coordinator, Media Press Kit writer, producer and promoter.
Road manager: Rara Machine and Emeline Michel
Manager: Papa Jube and the Jubelation, Djevo and Master DJi
Manager, Promoter, Stage designer and Stage production: Phantoms
Stage coordinator: Zin and Tabou Combo
Promotions: Lakol, Boukman Eksperyans, Zshea, Kajou (Haiti and New York), Lataye (Dadi beaubrun) and Do-la, Papash (Haiti), Scandal, Foula (Haiti) and more
Music video script writer/stage director/choreographer/stylist: Lakol “Ole Ole”
Video stage director: Lakol “Dife”
Media Press Kit writer: Carimi
Started in Marketing/promotions to now General Manager: BelO (6 years)
General Manager: Nadia Dieudonne & Feet of Rhythm Adult and Kids (18 years)
Marketing representative: Stevy Mahy and Zing Experience.
HB -What made you decide to create World Music Promotions?