Meet Stephanie Sejour known to us as rising star, TIFANE. Her new single, “Un Automne” is already an international hit!
TIFANE was born and raised in Petion-Ville, Haiti. She has been singing and composing music since she was seven years old. “I’ve always loved to sing! I used to put little shows together for family events. It became more serious when I went to college in Illinois. After my graduation, I worked in the United States for a year then I moved back to Haiti. In 2005 I worked and launched my music career simultaneously.”
Interestingly enough, it all started with a poem TIFANE turned into a song, “Se kom Si” (It’s As If). “I decided to turn this poem into a song and had it produced by Boulo Valcourt, who is a pioneer of Haitian music. He thought it would be best to just sing it over 2 guitars with no other instruments and he was right! After only two weeks on the radio it became a national hit!” This pushed TIFANE to the top of charts, making her the new top female Artist in Haiti.
She has a long list of artists who have inspired her, but her father is number one. “My love story with music comes from my father. He listened to everything exepct heavy metal rock. He groomed me from babyhood to adult to have an ear for music. My biggest influences are from different countries are Whitney Houston, Bob Marley, Beres Hammond, Celia Cruz, Emeline Michel, Jocelyn Beroard, Tania St-Val, Kofi Olomide, Papa Wemba, Tony Braxton, Myriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Angelique Kidjo, Aretha Franklin and India Irie. It seems like an eclectic list, and yes it is, because they each inspired me in a special way. Some because of how they sing or their stage presence and others because of the mastery of their work or the impact they made on the world. I learn and apply without losing who I am as an Artist.”
The urge to uplift people with her music is a huge motivation. “I am inspired to create music by both big and small life events. We’ve all had experiences with self-empowerment, injustice, love, family, joy, wake up calls, ethnicity and human nature. I want to sing about these issues that we can all relate to. For someone who lives under the public’s eye I have been very good at keeping my private life to myself. Only recently have I started to really feel comfortable composing and singing about my own experiences.”
TIFANE’s beautiful voice and winning smile are not her only attributes. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice. “I’m as passionate about human rights and the protection of children as I am about music and I am blessed to be able to link the two. I’ve used my education on many occasions working to volunteer with several institutions both in Haiti and the United States. I’ve held positions such as a volunteer mentor to girls in a temporary juvenile detention center in Chicago, a member of a committee for justice reform in Haiti and a case Manager for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Her distinctive voice and Afrocentric style set her aside from the average pop princess and she is more than happy to be in her own lane. “My uniqueness definitely sets me aside from other artists. I do have a special raspy voice (laughing) and that combined with my Afro Caribbean style (based on the instruments I use) create versatility. Listening to my old and new songs, watching videos of my shows and reading the comments people leave me on social media remind me that I am growing and progressing as an artist. As they say, I master the stage, I’m warm and I have an incredible connection with my audience. The most beautiful part of all this is that I don’t limit myself to singing in my native tongue. Anyone can dance, express themselves and relate to my music no matter what language I sing in.”
TIFANE set the narrative early by carrying herself with pride, discipline and respect. “I consider myself a role model, so from the beginning, I made sure to reach for the top without compromising my authenticity and my reputation. That puts me in the position of a respected Singer/Songwriter in this industry. Because if you’re not careful, the industry can easily turn you into something you’re not in the name of success. I make sure to set the record straight in the industry that sex is not all that sells, great music does to! It’s nice to be viewed as a sexy celebrity with a few hits to her name but I’ve worked too hard and I am much more than that. When you go to a TIFANE show, you go to have an enchanted experience and you will leave in a great mood! It’s all about the music.”
She describes her music as captivating and revitalizing. “May it be a slow jam or an upbeat dance song, I love to work on grabbing my audience’s attention within the first minute. I always try to put myself in the position of the consumer and seek the right vibe for the right lyrics. I sing about different messages like “let it go”, “I can do this!”, “yes that’s how I feel”, “love is in the air”, “Haiti get up and stand for something” or “we can do better”. These are not song titles but rather examples of central messages I have had great success with.”
TIFANE is very proud of her Haitian culture and her music reflects that. “Considering that I insisted on singing in Haitian Creole and bringing it to the rest of the world, I’d say that I’ve achieved that part of my dream. My parents exposed my siblings and I to so many cultures that differ from ours, but they also made it clear to never leave it behind for another. I am a strong believer that when all fails in a country, culture is the only thing we have left. It’s the biggest and the most beautiful card we can pull. My culture is a crucial part of my music, my lifestyle, my nutrition, the way I dance, so I have a strong hold on it. It guides me and helps me represent my country wherever I go. I may collaborate with Artists from other countries and join them in theirs, but you will see me represent my culture by any means necessary. My goal is and will always be to place my countries music in the most wanted list. I want to hear the world sing in creole. Everyone knows Haiti for Konpa music, but we are so much more than that. We have so many rhythms that our ancestors left us. I’ve inspired many young girls from my country to become successful Artists. I believe in impacting young girls and women to be great. I’m speaking as a mother, a wife, a business woman and a recording/performing Artist. I’m not saying it is easy, I’m saying it is possible.”
Her views on the current state of music are simple. “I see a lot of growth and effort from Afropop and Afrobeat cultures to be more mainstream without compromising the sound of where they come from. I actually noticed many Haitians getting closer to the motherland with their beats and their choice to collaborate with African Artists. I am even an example. I can’t speak for all genres, but I do listen to many different styles of music. I used to see how Worldbeat Musique has always been front and center in festivals but not on the radio enough. Nowadays that has completely changed and language is much less seen as barrier. The best change in music right now in my opinion is how more women are successful and breaking walls regardless of the fact that it’s still ran by what I call a ‘boys club’.”
TIFANE recently released her new single “Un Automne” currently available on all digital music platforms. “I’m very happy about the single and I’m closing in on my EP, so it’s crunch time! I’m both excited and nervous because I opened myself up to trying new things and mixing them with some TIFANE on this EP. I’m also collaborating on a song with one of Haiti’s most international DJ/producers, Gardy Girault and European producer/beatmaker, Yako.” We look forward to hearing new music from this busy lady!
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