As Willy Saintidor prepares to release his new album under the Legendary Henry Stone’s music label, he talks about his struggles and triumphs as a young Haitian boy, and how he was able to arrive at this place in his life today.
Willy’s musical style is the result of a lifetime of struggle. A native of Haiti, his early childhood was fraught with danger and misery. Like many other Haitian children, Willy’s parents were forced to leave him in the care of relatives in order to find employment outside of Haiti.
When his parents failed to provide financial support from abroad, Willy’s great uncle subsequently threw him out on the streets of Haiti. Forced to sleep in parks and survive in the streets with no food to eat for days at a time, Saintidor was eventually taken in by neighbors at the age of fourteen.
Another of Willy’s Uncles took him in and put him back into school. Willy took the opportunity to commit himself to education, eventually earning a college degree. The journey was not easy. Many days, not having the money to eat, he worked odd jobs and was fortunate to have cousins and friends who helped along the way. These experiences growing up in Haiti and working hard to make something of his life will forever influence his music.
After graduating from Evangelique Maranatha and Les Normaliens Reunis College in Haiti, like many of his fellow graduates, Willy aligned himself with the causes and struggles of the Haitian underprivileged children, by engaging in full-fledged activism on their behalf. Much to his chagrin, Willy realized that his efforts had minimal impact. As a result, he concluded that he had to save himself before he could save others.
So, Willy moved to Miami, Florida, where he drove a cab at night and continued his education by day. After being robbed at gunpoint twelve times driving the cab, he got out of the taxicab business. New struggles would be presented; however, Willy’s work ethic never faltered. Receiving a degree in physical therapy, he began to work and save to send money back to Haiti to help non-privileged children attend school and become educated.
It was in Miami that Saintidor continued recording his music in order to reach the world and share his struggles, hopes and dreams. Willy’s early introduction to music was by an elementary school teacher who played Bob Marley and Peter Tosh records over and over for him.
His first songwriting efforts were in Creole. After realizing that music is a softer, gentler way to speak the truth to the masses, he started writing his lyrics in English to reach a larger audience. Saintidor began recording sample tracks and showcasing his talent at local South Florida venues. Slowly but surely, he built a loyal fan base that would carry him through the many ups and downs typically experienced by new recording artists.
Saintidor is quick to point out that while his music has been shaped by his own life experience, he has also been inspired by the music of Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Peter Tosh and Lucky Dube, just to name a few. These artists not only succeeded on a universal scale, but they did it their way. Willy aspires to follow in the footsteps of these legends.
Willy continues to send money to put Haitian children through school. As he gains popularity and earns greater celebrity, he has plans to open schools in Haiti to pass on the good fortune he was afforded as a young boy living on the streets of Haiti. This is Willy Saintidor’s hope for a better tomorrow for the children of Haiti and the world.
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