Some say that you cannot separate music from dance in Haiti. Haitian music has been influenced by many different sources, including American jazz and Spanish-influenced music from Cuba. The national dance is the méringue. In the 1950s two celebrated composers and band leaders, Nemours Jean-Baptiste and Weber Sicot, introduced a new style of recreational dance music called Compas Direct or Cadence Rampa. The music scene has expanded over the past few years, with the introduction of Salsa and Reggae, but Compas Direct is the most popular form of dance. A number of Haitian groups, such as Tabou Combo and Coupé Cloué, have achieved international status.
Haitian art has its roots in the paintings that covered the walls of Voodoo temples. Some of the best representations of the spirit world can be found there. The development of art was encouraged in the newly independent republic in the early 19th century. A number of small art schools were set up. Early artists painted portraits or depicted religious scenes. Contemporary Haitian artists such as Gérard Valcin or Jacques Gourgues have drawn inspiration from everyday life in Haiti to create internationally acclaimed works of art.
Did you know?

The popular Caribbean song, "Yellow Bird," was originally a Haitian lullaby.

Port-au-Prince is considered the centre of cultural and intellectual life. The nation's most important museums, libraries and entertainment facilities are located here. With the opening of the Centre des Arts in Port-au-Prince in 1944, Haitian art started to become well known throughout the world. The works of many of the more famous artists such as the painter Hector Hyppolite are exhibited in major galleries in the United States and France. The artistic talent of Haitians is also shown in many of the local handicrafts, including wood carvings.
Most Haitian literature is written in French. Recently, efforts have been made to promote Creole as a literary language. A number of Haitian authors are internationally recognized, such as Jean Price-Mars (1876-1969). His books tell of the black African heritage in Haitian culture. Jacques Roumain wrote Gouverneurs de la rosée (Masters of the Dew) in 1944. It is one of Haiti's best-known novels. Another famous Haitian writer is René Depestre. He is viewed as Haiti's greatest living writer. His books include novels and poetry.