Belinda and Christina Belice exemplify their roles in the band Bel and Quinn even when in non-musical situations. Belinda (Bel), the lead-singer is always forthright and slightly more outgoing. She’s definitely the spokesperson of the band.

Bel and Quinn

Sisters Christina (left) and Belinda are the nucleus of Bel and Quinn
Photo: Philip Marceau

Christina (Quinn), the guitarist who counts Wes Montgomery and George Benson as guitar influences, plays the role of the side-woman. She’s always the support help and more low-key until she speaks about being a female axe-player is a world that she still calls “male dominant”.

“When I was in University studying jazz performance, there was a lot of sexism because I played guitar. That’s why it’s important that we only play with women, talented female musicians. It was important to show that us girls can sing and play and do all of the things that the boys do.”

The Montreal sisters of Haitian origin just released their debut full-length album Dante Sann Yo. “It means “the taming of the ashes” in Haitian creole, Belinda explained. “What we wanted to do with this album is send out a message of hope. It’s really an act of healing and of joy and liberation. It’s about acceptance really. It’s about liberation and listening to our voices because sometimes we listen to everybody around us but we never take the time to listen to ourselves”.

Dante Sann Yo echoes, remnants of Stevie Wonder’s 1973 album “Innervisons”, with its unique style of musical blending.

Dante Sann Yo mixes Black-American jazz, soul, funk and R’n’B with Zouk from Martinique and of course compa from Haiti.

I first saw Bel & Quinn open The Optimista Cine Conference in Verdun in 2002 with a brief live set which was captivating, jazzy and energetic. Their musical diversity and maturity is way beyond their early 20’s and shows a deep study into their musical journey.

Bel offered, “I write the lyrics and Christina composes and arranges all the songs so it’s a perfect match.

One of the singles off the album is Hommage which pays just that to Black women and more specifically Haitian women. The album is also about mental health, according to the sisters. “Music saved us”, shared Bel. “We overcame so much with depression and anxiety. We wanted to talk about that. It’s really important because in the Black community, people don’t want to talk about it. It’s really taboo.”

When asked what the future holds for Bel & Quinn, “We have a show coming up on February 24th at Centre D’Arts in Richmond (Quebec). It’s a one-off show. We’re also playing Festival Des Traditions Du Monde De Sherebrooke in August.” I think we’ll be hearing from the ladies for a while!

Duke Eatmon’s music segments can be heard regularly on CBC Radio’s Let’s Go, hosted by Sabrina Marandola on 88.5 FM and he also appears regularly with Debra Arbec on CBC Montreal News at 6.

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