Pensado's Place Series Features Discussion on Haitian Benefit Album

Pensado’s Place – the acclaimed weekly web series for engineers, mixers, producers and musicians – recently hosted an episode with core members of the super-group behind the collaborative benefit album Let the Rhythm Lead: Haiti Song Summit, Vol. 1. Led by program co-hosts Herb Trawick and Dave Pensado, the episode included a lively discussion with singer-songwriters Jackson Browne, Jenny Lewis, and Jonathan Wilson, who shared their thoughts and insights on the making of the album and working with the audio students at the Artists Institute in Haiti. To view the episode, click Here.

Let the Rhythm Lead: Haiti Song Summit, Vol. 1 was released earlier this year. Hailing from four different countries, interweaving North American Indie Rock with beats and percussion of Haitian Vodou, Spanish and Malian guitar, Tres Flamenco, with songs in English, Creole, Khassonké, Manding and Spanish, Let the Rhythm Lead celebrates the work of Artists for Peace and Justice in Haiti, and was recorded at the We Are The World Studio A at the Artists Institute on the island's southern coast, in the town of Jacmel.

The segment opened with co-host Herb Trawick asking Jackson Browne how the project came into being. Browne remarked, “It started as a project to demonstrate recording techniques to audio students in Haiti, and it became a band. Then it became a record. We didn’t even know we were making a record until after the first week of recording and realized how quickly it had gone and how much inspiration was there in the room. My second time there, we added Jenny Lewis and Habib Koité (Malian singer and guitar virtuoso).”

“It's really just a testament to the chemistry of music and people being open to creating with one another,” commented Jenny Lewis. “I knew Wilson and Jackson, but I met everyone else in Haiti and it was just a really open environment.”
Jonathan Wilson echoes Browne and Lewis’ thoughts on the creative process: “I think that the grooves were just completely effortless, that’s for sure. The feeling of the studio and of us being all together there on the coast, it was a real family feeling.”

“One of the blessings of this whole thing was that the students in this audio institute are really focused people who have finished their high school, and they’re there to become engineers and there to study music,” stated Browne. “And they each are so musical themselves, every time somebody picked anything up, whether it was a shaker or a drum or a bass instrument, you know, they were just magically really good.”

After discussing numerous aspects of the project, Dave Pensado closed the show stating, “When we think of the tropics, we think of peace, relaxation, touristy things, spending money, having great food. And then we leave. But the people that stay there and live there, they have a struggle. They have a hard life, and it’s not a tourist life for them. And the proximity and the juxtaposition of those two things is captured in this album. And it’s also captured by the hearts of these guys that have really put a lot behind helping the people that are down there, and we need to remember just because you go visit and you like it, it doesn’t mean when you leave things get better.”