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In the illustrious world of entertainment, there are a million rags-to-riches stories that have been told from the perspective of various cultures and nationalities, but in the past 20 years, there has not been a real life saga as riveting as that of international recording artist, producer, actor, philanthropist, and political activist Wyclef Jeanelle Jean. Hailing from the conflict torn nation of Haiti, this son of a preacher rose from the humble origins of living in tin roof houses and having no shoes to becoming a Presidential candidate of his homeland in 2010. His groundbreaking and award-winning career with The Fugees gave Wyclef the platform to become a voice for the voiceless of his native country where he was once one among the millions living in extreme poverty.

Anyone that is familiar with the common living conditions of areas like Croix Des Bouquets, which is on the outskirts of Port Au Prince, knows that Clef comes from what we recognize in America as the “hood.” Even though he was shielded from the allure of the streets by his ultra-religious father, nothing was going to hold him back from his passion and destiny that he saw in the world of entertainment. His love for his craft was so strong that despite the disapproval from dad, he went forward in pursuing his career. This decision costed the father-son Jeans a decade of their relationship, however it was rewarded with Grammys, movie appearances, and a chance at making Haiti a better place to live for citizens of a country that global powers consider the third world.

In 2001 ,Wyclef launched Yele Haiti, a charity organization that provided school funding, scholarships, meals, and other charitable benefits for the people. The organization received its greatest acclaim during the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, in which Clef and Yele Haiti raised over $1 million via Twitter. Yele Haiti, which means “cry for freedom”, donated funding for street cleaning crews, orphanages, hospitals, and food services for survivors of that tragedy. Not long following the earthquake, Clef surprisingly announced that he would be running for President of Haiti. Even though his bid for candidacy was rejected, Jean still continued to financially and symbolically support his people because he knows that without his guitar and a little luck, he very well may have been in the same position they’re in.


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Wyclef Jean: From A One Room Hut to Top of the Billboard Charts  was originally published on