NEW YORK — Since last week’s devastating earthquake struck his homeland of Haiti, Wyclef Jean has been tirelessly rallying support for relief for the ravaged country via his Yele Haiti foundation and many public calls for assistance . And, as one of the organizers of Friday night’s “Hope for Haiti” telethon , he plans to incorporate some of the country’s traditional music into his set.
“I’mma start with ‘Rivers of Babylon,’ ” Wyclef told MTV News during a break from rehearsals for the event on Thursday (January 21). “Then, after that, I’m gonna go to a traditional Creole song, one of my songs called ‘Yele.’ Then we’re gonna close it out with some Racine. Racine is roots music of the country. Everybody loves Haiti. I haven’t heard too many people speaking Creole yet. That’s the Haitian language in French. Tomorrow night on my set, I’m gonna teach y’all Creole 101.”
‘Clef will be surrounded by family and loved ones during his set on Friday.
“It’s gonna be historic,” Jean said. “I have my sister with me, Melky , my cousin with me, Jerry. I have [producer/musician] Papa Jube, he’s in charge of those traditional horns that you see. It’s definitely a family vibe you’ll see tomorrow.”
George Clooney, who helped to organize “Hope for Haiti,” said the telethon was spurred into action by a call from Wyclef .
“I was in New York the evening it happened,” he told MTV News on Thursday. “It happened at four or five o’clock, and I got a message from Wyclef that he’s gonna go into the Dominican Republic and that it was much worse than what’s initially been reported. We knew it was bad, but who knew how bad? And he said, ‘Is there anything you can do?’ So the next morning, I woke up and called Judy McGrath at MTV, and Judy said, ‘We were thinking about doing something too,’ so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”
On Wednesday, Wyclef appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and talked about the devastation in Haiti.
“It’s just like the seventh hell, and walking [around] there’s two things: There’s what you see at the airport and then there’s inside the belly of the beast,” he said. “The best I can explain it is for you to walk into a city and the entire city feels like walking into a morgue. For every two blocks, [there are] 15, 16 bodies on the floor — no plastic. People running through the city, babies in their hands, while their baby is dead. They’re out of [medicine] at times. People are saying, ‘My baby’s gonna die,’ not knowing their baby’s already dead.”
“Hope for Haiti Now” will air commercial-free on MTV and many other networks on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
Learn more about what you can do to help with earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti , and for more information, see Think MTV. Join George Clooney and Wyclef Jean for MTV’s “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon , airing commercial-free Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET and visit HopeForHaitiNow.org or call (877) 99-HAITI to make a donation now.