Michel Martelly

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Michel Martelly
Michel Martelly on April 20, 2011.jpg
56th President of Haiti
Assumed office
14 May 2011
Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive
Garry Conille
Laurent Lamothe
Florence Duperval Guillaume (Acting)
Evans Paul
Preceded by René Préval
Personal details
Born (1961-02-12) 12 February 1961 (age 54)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Political party Farmers' Response Party
Spouse(s) Sophia Saint-Rémy
Children 4
Sweet Micky
Birth name Michel Joseph Martelly[1]
Born (1961-02-12) 12 February 1961 (age 54)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Genres Compas
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1988–2011

Michel Joseph Martelly (born 12 February 1961[2]) is a Haitian politician, former musician and businessman. Since May 2011, he is the President of Haiti,[3] having been one of Haiti's best-known musicians for over a decade, going by the stage name "Sweet Micky". For various reasons, Martelly has moved a number of times between the United States and Haiti, living primarily in Florida during his time in the US.

As a singer and keyboardist, "Sweet Micky" is known for his compas music, a style of Haitian dance music sung predominantly in the Haitian Creole language, but he blended this with other styles. Martelly popularized a "new generation" of compas with smaller bands relying on synthesizers and electronic instruments. From 1989 to 2008, Martelly recorded over a dozen studio albums and a number of live CDs. As a musician and club owner in Haiti in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Martelly became associated with the Duvalierist Haitian military and police, including figures such as police chief Michel François, and he agreed with the 1991 Haitian coup d'état against Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In 1995, after Aristide had been restored to office, Martelly's name appeared on a hit list of Duvalier supporters, and he stayed away from Haiti for almost a year. During this time, he released a song, "Prezidan" (on the album Pa Manyen), "an exuberant ditty that called for a president who played compas".[4] However, he did not run for political office until 2010, when he became a candidate for President of Haiti.

Martelly won the Haitian general election, 2010–2011 for his party Repons Peyizan (Farmers' Response Party), after a run-off against candidate Mirlande Manigat. Martelly had come in third in the first round of the election, until the Organization of American States forced Jude Célestin to withdraw due to alleged fraud. Martelly assumed his position of the President of Haiti on 14 May 2011. His election campaign included a promise to reinstate the nation's military, which had been abolished in the 1990s by Aristide.

Early life[edit]

Martelly was born in Port-au-Prince, the middle-class son of a Shell Oil executive.[2] On his mother's side, his grandfather Auguste de Pradine was a troubadour[5] who wrote comic protest songs against the 1915-34 United States occupation of Haiti.[4] After graduating from high school at the Institution of Saint Louis de Gonzague, Martelly enlisted in the Haitian Military Academy, but (according to Martelly) was expelled after impregnating the god-daughter of a general.[2] In 1984, he moved to the United States, and worked in construction and briefly attended community college in Miami.[2] In 1986, after one semester, he returned to Haiti just as Jean-Claude Duvalier, then president-for-life, was heading into exile. In 1987, Martelly returned to Miami with his then-girlfriend, Sophia Saint-Rémy,[4] whom he later married in a small ceremony in Miami, Florida.[citation needed] They returned to Haiti in 1988.[4]

Upon his return to Haiti, Martelly had his first breakthrough in the music industry when he began playing keyboard as a fill-in musician in local venues in Pétionville and Kenscoff, upscale suburbs of Port-au-Prince.[4][6] Martelly "sang playful, romantic numbers over a slow méringue beat called compas, the only music allowed under the Duvaliers."[2] After the 1991 Haitian coup d'état saw the expulsion of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, "Martelly opened a Petionville club called the Garage, where he entertained many of the coup's main architects, including the much-feared chief of national police, Michel François, later convicted in absentia for massacring Aristide supporters. François liked Martelly's music so much that he allegedly lent the singer his own nickname: 'Sweet Micky.'"[2]


Martelly has been heralded as a pioneer of a unique genre of compas, a style of Haitian dance music sung predominantly in the Haitian Creole language. Originally, compas, was the creation of Nemours Jean-Baptiste. Martelly, a keyboardist and the self-proclaimed "President of Compas," popularized a nouvelle génération, or "new generation" style, of smaller bands with few members that relied predominantly on synthesizers and electronic instruments to reproduce a fuller sound. Martelly's live performances and recordings are sometimes laced with physical humor and humorous sociopolitical commentaries and satires. Although he is the most recognized musician and public personality in Haiti, Martelly's performance style has sometimes ignited controversy throughout Haitian communities.

Recording career[edit]

By 1988, Martelly's musical talent, charismatic persona, and his pattering style of compas had gained tremendous popularity at El Rancho Hotel and Casino and The Florville, another local venue. That year, he recorded his first single, Ooo La La, which became an instant hit, followed by "Konpas Foret des Pins" which was released in 1989, also a number hit from his debut album "Woule Woule". During the period of about 1988-2008 Martelly, using his stage name Sweet Micky, recorded fourteen studio albums and a number of live CDs. His music features slow méringue, compas, troubadour, carnival méringue, rabòday, etc.

In 1997, Martelly's crossover appeal to other musical genres was evident when hiphop and compas star, Wyclef Jean of The Fugees featured him on the title track for Jean's solo effort Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival featuring the Refugee Allstars. As Jean proclaims on 'The Carnival,' "Surprise - it's Sweet Micky, y'all!" Also in 1997, Martelly released an album containing one of his most celebrated hits, Pa Manyen ("Don't Touch"). The song is an adaptation of "Angola", composed by the renowned artist/composer/record producer Ramiro Mendes (of the Mendes Brothers), first recorded by Cesária Évora, the legendary Cape Verdean singer. Pa Manyen went on to be featured in various compilation albums, including the popular Putumayo Presents: French Caribbean in 2003. The song was also covered by Venezuelan singer, Soledad Bravo as "Canta, Canta Corazon" and by Jose Luiz Cortes of Cuba. See also the Mendes Brothers' original version of the song, performed by Ramiro Mendes included in the group's 1997 album - Para Angola Com Um Xi Coracao. Martelly is also notorious for his cursing on stage as well as using homophobic slurs.

Political career[edit]

In 1992, Martelly played for free at a protest against the arrival of a UN representative charged with negotiating the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide after the 1991 Haitian coup d'état.[2] Martelly later explained "I did not want Aristide back... You want me to be a de facto [supporter of the coup]. I'm a de facto. It's my right. It's my country. I can fight for whatever I believe in."[2] After Jean-Bertrand Aristide had been restored to office, some former military officers, paramilitaries and secret police associated with the old regime were assassinated. In February 1995, a "hit list" of such individuals was circulated, and included Martelly's name. After an individual on the list was murdered, Martelly's wife warned him not to come back from his tour, and it was almost a year before he returned to Haiti.[4] During this time he released a song, Prezidan, "an exuberant ditty that called for a president who played compas".[4] At the 1996 Carnival, to which Manno Charlemagne, the mayor of Port-au-Prince, invited him, Martelly dressed in a pink wig and bra.[4] As Martelly explained, it was intended in part as a political statement:

"If you see me as a Macoute, then I'm a Macoute. If you see me as gay, I'm gay. What you think of me is no problem, as far as I am concerned. You have the right to think what you want. I know who I am, and that's the main thing."[4]

In 1997, Martelly participated in "Knowledge is Power", an HIV educational music video with a message about preventing the spread of HIV. His humanitarian work as the President of the Foundation Rose et Blanc, created by his wife Sophia and himself, to help the poor and disenfranchised of the country, was the basis for his choice as the Good Will Haitian Ambassador for the Protection of the Environment by the Haitian Government.

In 2004, following the 2004 Haitian coup d'état against Aristide, Gérard Latortue, a friend of Martelly's, became Prime Minister.[2] At this time, Martelly was living in Florida but in 2007, he moved back to Haiti, in the process, like many others, when the mortgage/financial sector crashed,defaulted on more than $1m in loans and losing 3 properties to foreclosure.[2]

In 2010, he ran for President of Haiti in the general elections. He challenged the results as to whether he placed second, making the runoff, or third. On 3 February 2011, it was announced that he would participate in a run-off election scheduled for 20 March 2011.[7] On 4 April 2011, a senior official announced that Martelly had won the presidential run-off election against candidate Mirlande Manigat with more than 60% of the vote.[8]


Martelly was sworn in as President on 14 May 2011, marking the first time in Haitian history that an incumbent president peacefully transferred power to a member of the opposition. The following day, the incumbent Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, resigned to allow Martelly to choose his own Prime Minister.[9] Martelly was quick to pledge reforms for the post-earthquake reconstruction process.[10]

In August 2011, Martelly announced a plan to reinstate the nation's military. This plan was met with controversy as many human rights activists were concerned about bringing back a military which had been responsible for many atrocities in the past.[11]

In September 2011, Martelly formed an advisory board that included business executives, bankers, and politicians such as former President of the United States Bill Clinton, that he hopes will improve business and economy in Haiti.[12]

In February 2012, Martelly's Prime Minister, Garry Conille, resigned, having been in office five months. He was replaced in May by Laurent Lamothe, the Foreign Minister.

In March 2012, Martelly received the Grand Cross with Gold Breast Star of the Dominican Republic's Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella.[13]

In March-April 2012, Martelly was accused of corruption, with allegations that during and after the 2010 election, he had accepted $2.6 million in bribes to ensure that a Dominican Republic construction company would continue to receive contracts under his Presidency. Martelly denied the allegations.[14] Companies owned or controlled by Félix Bautista had received no-bid contracts worth $200 million, awarded by former Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.[15] In November 2013, anti-government protests were held in the country over the high cost of living and corruption.[16]

Mid-term Senate elections had been originally due in May 2012, while the municipal poll is three years behind schedule. They were postponed again on 26 October 2014 - the day they were due to be held - because of an ongoing stalemate between the government and a group of opposition senators over an electoral law. The Haitian government faced months of protests over the delayed elections. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned on 14 December and was replaced by Evans Paul. But street protests have continued, with renewed calls for the president's resignation.

On 13 January 2015 the parliament was dissolved after its term expired. On 17 January 2015 thousands of protesters in the capital demanded the president's resignation. Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd. Martelly urged protesters to keep order and said he had reached a deal with the opposition to form a consensus government within the next 48 hours.[17]

Personal life and later music career[edit]

Martelly currently lives in Haiti, but held several homes in Palm Beach, Florida. He lives with his wife and former manager, Sophia Saint–Rémy, and their four children, Olivier, Sandro, Yani, and Malaika. In 2006, Martelly announced his unofficial retirement from recording and performing, but two years later announced a return to music with a new single, Magouyè, and the video/short film, "Bandi Legal yo ki rive". He is a cousin of Port-au-Prince hotel manager and musician Richard Morse.[18]

In April 2012, Martelly was flown to the United States for treatment of what was later diagnosed as a pulmonary embolism.[1] It was attributed to the immobilisation of his arm necessitated by recent shoulder surgery.[19]


Title Released Type Label as...
Woule Woule 1989 Studio Geronimo Michel Martelly
Anba Rad La 1990 Studio AP Michel Martelly
The Sweetest 1992 Studio Josy Michel Martelly
Min Koze-A 1993 Studio Josy Michel Martelly
I Don't Care 1994 Studio Josy Michel Martelly
Pa Manyen 1995 Studio Josy Michel Martelly
Tout Cé Mately 1996 Studio Déclic Michel Martelly
Aloufa 1997 Studio Antilles Michel Martelly
Best of Sweet Micky 1997 Compilation Déclic Sweet Micky
100.000 Volts 1998 Studio Mini Records Michel Martelly
An Bolewo 1998 Live Anson Sweet Micky
Dènye Okazyon 1999 Studio Geronimo Michel Martelly
Jojo Ban'm Nouvel Micky 1999 Live Exit Michel Martelly
100% KaKa 1999 Live Mad Dog Sweet Micky
Michel Martelly Live 2000 Live Créon Sweet Micky
SiSiSi 2001 Studio Créon Michel Martelly
Live au café des arts: Vol. 2 2001 Live Geronimo Sweet Micky
200% KaKa 2001 Studio/Live Mad Dog Sweet Micky
Rale Kow La ???? Live Geronimo Sweet Micky
400% KaKa 2002 Live Mad Dog Sweet Micky
Live at best western 2002 Live Geronimo Sweet Micky
Best of Michel Martelly 2002 Compilation Créon Michel Martelly
Totot 2003 Studio AD Sweet Micky
Micky Chez Lui (Micky Bolero 2) 2003 Exit Sweet Micky
Sweet Micky Live 2003 Live Geronimo Sweet Micky
New Repertoire 2004 Live Exit Sweet Micky
Babaille Micky Mix 2004 Exit Sweet Micky
GNB 2005 Studio D-Facto Sweet Micky
Sweet Micky with Robert Martino: Live Vol. 1 2005 Live Touche Douce Sweet Micky
Sweet Micky with Robert Martino: Live Vol. 1 2005 Live Touche Douce Sweet Micky
Micky ap Trip 2005 Live Exit Sweet Micky
Sweet Micky & Djakout: Live 2006 2006 Live Feeling Sweet Micky
Jojo Ban'm Nouvel Micky 2006 Live Exit Michel Martelly
Sweet Micky vs Dega 2007 Live Arnold Sweet Micky
Live in Miami (Ouvè Kôw) 2007 Live Acoustique Sweet Micky
Blazin' Live 2007 Live Exit Sweet Micky
Bandi Légal 2008 Studio Antilles Sweet Micky
Micky & Sons 2008 Antilles Sweet Micky
Vin' Pran Konpa 2008 Studio Patrick Sweet Micky
Konpa Prezidantiyèl 2010 Live Sweet Micky Sweet Micky
Prézidan Éspwa Vote #8 2011 Studio ArnoldZic Sweet Micky


  1. ^ a b Jaqueline Charles, Miami Herald, 25 April 2012, Haiti president says he came close to death
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Michael E. Miller, 9 June 2011, New Times Broward-Palm Beach, Michel Martelly Is Haiti's New President. But the Former Palm Beach County Resident Has a Dark Side
  3. ^ "Singer "Sweet Micky" takes oath as Haiti's president". Reuters. 14 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ackerman, Elise. "His Music Rules in Haiti: Sweet Micky's provocative music moves Haitians with an infectious beat and political overtones". Miami New Times. 29 May 1997. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
  5. ^ "His Music Rules in Haiti: Sweet Micky's provocative music moves Haitians with an infectious beat and political overtones". Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Balmaseda, Liz. The Sweet Life of Michel Martelly Palm Beach Post archived on FindArticles.com. 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  7. ^ Waters, Maxine. Haiti's Doubtful Elections Cloud Future Recovery Black Star News. 3 February 2011. Retrieved on 3 February 2011.
  8. ^ Archibald, Randal C. Popular Carnival Singer Is Elected President of Haiti in a Landslide "The New York Times". 4 April 2011. Retrieved on 4 April 2011.
  9. ^ Miami Herald, 15 May 2011
  10. ^ http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/21/2325320/martelly-to-reform-haiti-reconstruction.html
  11. ^ "Haiti: Disbanded Army Reportedly To Be Restored". Huffington Post. 27 September 2011. 
  12. ^ http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Haiti-pres-Clinton-form-board-apf-2417127420.html?x=0&.v=2
  13. ^ Caribbean Journal, 26 March 2012, Haiti’s Martelly Visits Dominican Republic, Signs Technical Agreements
  14. ^ Ezra Fieser, TIME, 14 April 2012, A Year Under Martelly: Corruption Controversy Sidetracks Haiti's Effort to Rebuild
  15. ^ Ezra Fieser and Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, 2 April 2012, Dominican authorities investigating Haitian contracts of senator
  16. ^ http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/11/haiti-anti-government-protests-turn-violent-2013111944053271210.html
  17. ^ BBC Haiti: New calls for Martelly to resign as deal is announced
  18. ^ Daniel, Trenton. The former pop singer who could be Haiti’s president. The Miami Herald. 6 February 2011. Retrieved on 21 February 2011.
  19. ^ Jaqueline Charles, Miami Herald, 17 April 2012, As Haitian President Martelly recuperates in Miami, armed ex-soldiers stormed parliament grounds

External links[edit]


Political offices
Preceded by
René Préval
President of Haiti