Nothing typifies Voodoo spirit better than the drum. Literally the heartbeat of the tradition, the drums are the hands of Voodoo. They carry the messages of the divine through their skins. It reverberates and permeates our bodies and we are trance-formed. In New Orleans Voodoo and Haitian Vodou there are rhythms for each specific Lwa or deity. It is like the Lwa’s theme song, it is played both to call and to honor. Music is present at all rituals.
The first famous Voodoo drummer to gain popularity was Dr. John Montaigne. He operated as High Priest to Marie Laveau’s High Priestess and by many accounts he was almost as impressive as she was. Reported to be Senegalese royalty, he is said to have had many wives and a face tattooed with red and blue snakes. Marie Laveau herself has been the subject of many a tune, New Orleans Jazz or not, and performed by everyone from Dr. John (Mac Rebennack), Big Chief Alfred Doucette, The Hanna Barbarians, Canned Heat, Bobby Bare and many others. The roots of N’awlins sacred music , however echo forth from the drum.
My recommendation for New Orleans Voodoo music is the cd titled simply Voodoo created by the Voodoo Spiritual Temple and featuring the lovely sounds of Priestess Miriam Chamani and Louis Maritinie drumming along with others. This collection features song and chants for Legba, the gatekeeper, Ogun, the Ancestors,
Most of traditional Haitian Vodou recordings exist only on vinyl. Leading the list of my favorite collection of ritual Haitian music is Bonnie Devlin’s Action of Grace. She is another individual that I am proud to have as a spiritual mentor and friend. This cd includes sacred tracks for the ancestors, and for the different nations (nanchon) or Lwa such as Ibo, Petro and more. It functions as a complete ritual playlist from start to finish and I highly recommend it.