Who is Parfait?
Benin born artist, educator and speaker, Parfait Bassalé began using music to process his emotional states, at a young age. Because his father worked for an overseas company, Parfait faced the challenges related to migration early in life (language barriers, cultural differences, integration, prejudice etc…). Keeping up with the tradition of Blues music, songs and poetry became his preferred outlets for dealing with the pain of being a transient sojourner in this world, and for formulating his hopes for a better tomorrow for all.
Parfait’s style carries traces of his personal and musical journey: lilting West African rhythms, sweet jazz progressions, a touch of reggae, and catchy pop hooks on a solid foundation of American soul. The spirits of Youssou N’Dour, Wynton Marsallis, Ray Charles, and Bob Marley nod appreciatively and tap their toes. Then Parfait starts singing and Al Green joins the circle of geniuses. Parfait’s sweet tenor soaring smoothly into falsetto recalls Reverend Al in his prime. Parfait’s music evokes the unity of the human spirit:
“On the other side,
I see no enemy lines.
On the other side,
just one breed of human kind”.
But he still brandishes the sharp socio-political edge of conscious HipHop in the likeness of Faf Larage, IAM and Mos Def:
“They say he died a hero
They raise our flags
As a sneaky way to feed our egos”.
The core of his message, however, is our common humanity. He captures this most poignantly in “Nou tou Hatiens” (We Are All Haitians), a reggae-tinged story song about a ten-year-old Haitian girl Parfait met on a post-earthquake trip to help rebuild Haiti’s education system.
Parfait is one of those artists that one must see and hear live. The impassioned and participatory performance he delivers on stage makes it a life time experience for audiences that can’t be reproduced on audio recordings.
Peacemaker at heart, and passionate about social transformation, he enrolled in the Masters Program of Conflict Resolution at Portland State University. During his training he focused on the adaptation of conflict prevention techniques to songwriting. This work led to the design of the Story & Song Centered Pedagogy (SSCP); an instructional approach that uses songs, storytelling and reflective inquiry to enhance empathy.
Parfait is now the founder and executive director of the Singing Dove Project, a Peace Education Enterprise that brings engaging empathy workshops to audiences internationally.
A Global Citizen
Parfait has a strong passion for empathy education, interpersonal, cross-cultural and religious understanding. Before moving to America, he lived in multiple countries in West Africa and has additional social ties in Europe and the Middle East. Parfait brings to the table his unique experience and perspective as he presents and sings about issues of understanding, diversity, religion and peace.
Parfait currently lives in Portland Oregon where he performs at various venues and creates SSCP curricula for students, educators, counselors, mentors and community leaders.
Parfait possesses a rare combination of talents that enable him to communicate very difficult concepts in a way that is both accessible and thoroughly stimulating. His concepts and subject matter are challenging, and yet he is able to engage students in a way that frees them to share their own experience and insight as a part of the learning experience. This, I think, is part of what makes his approach so meaningful: he addresses subject matter that needs to be learned and re-learned and he effectively invites students into the experience of doing so.Gabriel Durben