Russell Promotes Haitian Music, Helps Rebuild Ravaged Country

November 2, 2010

By: Melissa McGuire

Franz Liszt, a famous composer, once said anyone possessing a particular talent, ability, or opportunity has an obligation to use it for the good of others.

As a musician and piano instructor at Bradley University, Joshua Russell applies this philosophy in his own life and career.

Russell, with the help of Dr. John Jost, applied his talents to teaching at the Holy Trinity School's summer music camp in Haiti. At the camp, Russell taught piano lessons, educated students, and played chamber music with other staff during recitals and concerts.

While in Haiti, Russell was astonished by the positive attitudes he saw among the Haitians despite troubling times.

 "In the midst of such enormous poverty, the kids were so excited, enthusiastic, and grateful for everything we did for them and taught them," Russell said.  "The kids laughed all the time.  They loved to tell stories, play card games, do card tricks, dance, sing songs, and play sports."

On October 15, Russell released a CD featuring Haitian music entitled "Valses to Voodoo". Russell realized that Haitian music is excellent, but isn't very prominent in the U.S. He wanted to "give something back" to the Haitians, especially in this time of particular need.

After the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Russell decided a portion of the CD's proceeds would go toward rebuilding the school where he once taught.

Music is a critical part of Haitians' culture and happiness. Russell once heard a student say, "If we have food and music, we are happy."