March is the international month of La Francophonie, which is celebrated by over 200 million French-speaking people in over 68 countries around the world. Exemplified by the principle of unity and commonality, according to a statement from the French Embassy in New York City, “francophone countries have been quick to mobilize for Haiti following the January earthquake.” It was further pointed out that “France, for its part, announced a massive aid package totaling almost half a billion dollars (326 million euros).”

This francophone philosophy continues on March 15 at 8 p.m, when the French-speaking community in New York City will mobilize for a fund-raising benefit concert for Haiti. Organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF), the concert will be held at the Florence Gould Hall at 55 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison avenues).

Headlining this very significant initiative is Yannick Noah, the French superstar, and Emeline Michel, the internationally acclaimed Haitian vocalist. Also sharing the stage is BelO, the rising Haitian singer-songwriter, and French multi-instrumentalist and singer Mino Cinelu.

One of France’s most popular celebrities, Noah, the beloved former tennis champion won 39 titles, including the 1983 French Open, prior to becoming a pop star who is celebrated for such moving hits as “Saga Africa” (1991) and “Donne-moi une vie’ (2009).

The highly praised Michel, the reigning diva of Haitian music, is in a class by herself. Her unique brand of music is an eclectic mix of fantastic traditional compass, twoubadou and rara fused with inspirational lyrics. Her “Queen of Hearts” album (2007), which has garnered rave reviews, continues to be a favorite for her fans worldwide. The riveting music of the 30-year-old Haitian sensation Jean Belony Murat, better known as BelO, is a fascinating and unique mix of reggae, voodoo and soul beats, all of which are featured on “Reference” (2008).

And there is no denying that the artist, Mino Cinelu is smooth like vintage wine. He has played with the likes of the great Miles Davis and Sting, and his album “La Californie” (2007) was nominated for best movie soundtrack at the Cannes Film Festival.

Funds from the concert are earmarked for the reconstruction of the Cine Institute in Jacmel, a small city south of Port-au-Prince, and for the French Heritage Language Program in America to help educate young Haitian refugees in Miami and New York. Jacmel, with a population of 40,000, was destroyed by the January earthquake. Consequently, when David Belle, co-founder of the town’s Cine Institute, appealed to FIAF, with whom he had worked on the 2009 World Nomad Series, there was an immediate response in NYC to organize this concert to assist the Jacmel organization that provides the area’s youth with film education, technical training and media-related work opportunities.

Similarly the French Heritage Language Program, run by the non-profit French American Cultural Exchange Foundation (FACE), provides “free, for-credit French classes that build on the cultural heritage of students and help them achieve academic success.” Since its inception five years ago, 500 students have already participated in this program, either within the public school system or at community-based centers in New York.

A portion of the proceeds from the evening’s donations will be used to advance “the program in order to meet the huge influx of new students from Haiti and to launch French Heritage classes in Miami, where many Haitian earthquake victims have sought refuge.” These new classes were launched at the Little Haiti Cultural Center on February 27 with Pierre Vimont, the ambassador of France, and Tomas P. Regalado, Miami’s mayor, in attendance.

For further information, visit or call (212) 355-6160. To purchase tickets, which are priced from $50 to $150 (with additional donations welcome), visit or call (212) 307-4100.