Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wesli (Wesley Louissaint) built his own guitar at age 8, using bits of oil drums from NGOs along with nylon fishing rope. One of seven children in a family where music nurtured everyday life, it became second nature, an escape from the prevailing misery.
Wesli’s musical adventure began with the gospel choir at the local church, and he took up the guitar as his main instrument. He became involved in groups such as the Afro-roots quartet Jazz 4ever and SoKute. Already performing on several stages in Haiti, he set out for concerts abroad with the Kreyol Mizik outfit. With SoKute, he recorded the album Horizon, a bit hit in their home country and the beginnings of international recognition.
In 2001, Wesli settled in Montréal, working at various festivals (Productions Nuits d’Afrique, Francofolies, Montréal International Jazz Festival) and performing regularly with his group on various stages across Canada. He also played as a guitarist for well known names in Caribbean music as well as for several Montréal artists (Lorraine Klaasen, Lilison Di Kinara, Gage, Inword, Nathalie Choquette).
His first album as a solo artist, Kouraj, won critical and public acclaim in 2009. This would be followed by Liberté dans le noir in 2011 and then two albums in 2015, Immigrand and Ayiti étoile nouvelle. In 2018, he brought out his latest album, Rapadou Kréyol, which is distributed worldwide on the Cumbancha label and which won the 2019 Juno award for World Music album of the year.
In acoustic form (guitar, vocals, percussion) or with his big band, Wesli delivers a musical style that is festive, original and captivating. He immediately conquers his audience with committed lyrics set to complex arrangements. Critics have called him “the most awesome world music creature currently offered by Montréal to the rest of the planet” (Alain Brunet, La Presse).