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Haitian 'Heavenly Armies' explored in May 19 lecture

Melvin Butler

Melvin Butler

  • May 4, 2010 5:45am

“Heavenly Armies – independent Pentecostal groups in Haiti that ward off Satan and Vodou spirits through spiritual warfare  – will be covered in a free program from noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, May 19 in the Music Building Recital Hall, 1055, on the Hayward campus.

Melvin Butler, an assistant professor of music at the University of Chicago, first encountered heavenly armies in 2000 while doing fieldwork for a dissertation on Caribbean Pentecostalism. Now an ethnomusicologist, his current research explores performance, Pentecostal faith, and cultural identity in Haiti.

In “Heavenly Armies: Music, Nationalism, and Spiritual Warfare in Haiti,” he will focus on both the “heated” singing and dancing, and the resistance and empowerment they have instilled among believers despite local and transnational oppression.

That evening Butler, a saxophonist, will join the University’s Jazz Improv Ensembles for a free performance at 7:30 in the Studio Theatre.

Questions? Contact Johannes Wallmann, assistant professor of music, at


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