Jonas Attis was born in Jeremie on the southwest coast of Haiti. Known as “The City of Poets,” Jeremie has a history of spawning politically engaged artists. Raised in a musical household with faiths split between Vodou and Protestantism, Jonas was surrounded by many of the country’s deep traditions from a young age. He started writing songs as a child – including a local rara band hit when still in his teens.
In 1993, Jonas embarked on an ill-fated voyage with his grandmother, a famous leader of a local rara band. They boarded an overcrowded ferry called the Neptune that shuttled passengers from Jeremie along the coast to the capital city of Port-au-Prince. When bad weather caused the ship to capsize, the voyage turned into one of the greatest maritime disasters of recent times with the loss of as many as 1500 lives – including Jonas’ grandmother. Jonas spent 3 days floating on a barrel of oil, a bucket of charcoal and on the back of a bloated cow carcass before being saved by a Cuban rescue team that brought him back to Jeremie. He arrived on the wharf in Jeremie just as his family was saying their last prayers for him, thinking he was among the many who had perished.
In his 20s Jonas moved to Port-au-Prince to follow his musical dreams. He has earned a reputation as a passionate and soulful singer with infectious energy onstage. Though he is often called upon to sing on the hits of other stars, Jonas has developed his own unique songwriting style that blends traditional rara and Vodou with reggae and Haitian pop styles. He is one of Lakou Mizik’s lead songwriters with lyrics that blend pointed political message with sing-a-long choruses that never fail to get a crowd moving. He says that to this day his grandmother inspires him and he thinks of her every time he is on stage.