Healing Saturdays: How Haitian music brought Brooklyn together during a time of social distancing
Updated: Jan 16
I originally wanted to write an artist profile on Zing Experience, the band at the center of this article. I wanted to write it in the third person, personally removed from it all: impartial, factual and complimenting. How can I bring alive the energy surrounding these events without using my personal experience? The only way to evoke the emotions and vibe that Zing Experience brought to Brooklyn is by sharing this with you in the first person.
Photos provided by Maureen Boyer
Before I can tell you about Healing Saturdays, I have to give you the background story of how I became involved with Zing Experience. My father, Chico Boyer, is a musician, he is a professional bass player and is considered a pioneer of the Rasin genre originating from Haiti. My father is also the bass player for Zing Experience, which comprises: Paul Beaubrun, the lead singer and lead guitarist; Morgan Zwerlein on the Haitian drums, and Peter Barr on the drum set. During quarantine, New York City restricted any sorts of gathering, restaurants were closed, bars were closed, theaters were closed. Live music was non-existent, musicians suffered. In July, New York City loosened these restrictions and started allowing outside gatherings. My father owns a house with a large corner yard in the historic Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn. The musicians were yearning to perform and they had access to an outdoor space. On the weekend of 4th of July, Healing Saturdays was born, the one day a week when the drums brought the sounds of Haiti to Brooklyn, the electric guitar wailing through the distance, and the neighborhood was alive.
Healing Saturdays became a refuge for all of us during this pandemic, the ones who wanted to let loose and momentarily forget about the effects of a deadly pandemic, a seemingly impending doom. It was also an outlet for the musicians of Zing Experience to express their creativity, to release a voice that was abruptly shut for months. The music came and the spectators followed. The crowd grew every week, fans from as far as Connecticut came to see the band perform, neighbors on their front porch cheered the band on, and random passersby stopped and came back every week. Children danced, strangers bonded, friendship grew and artists were inspired. Zing Experience created a culture around them by playing Haitian music with a modern draw. The band was even awarded with Brooklyn’s COVID Heroes award, after being nominated by the neighbors in the Ditmas Park neighborhood.
Then the cold came and Healing Saturdays ended, leaving us to look forward to Zing Experience’s healing music once more. An uncertainty about what the future holds also came back once the music stopped. Will we have to wait until next summer for restorative peace that Zing Experience provided? Will live music ever be the same? Although, I can’t help but cherish the memories that Healing Saturdays provided. The touch of my old home in my new home that Zing Experience’s music gifted me. The friendships that melded during these few months. The community I came to adore. We were all healed, albeit temporarily.
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