This month marks the 31st year anniversary of the passing of Antoine Rossini Jean Baptiste, born Emmanuel Jean-Baptiste, (best known as Ti Manno). He died on May 13th, 1985 in Queens NY and was buried at Cavalry Cemetery… 17th section in Queens. It was the first week of April in 1985 after a long hiatus from the Haitian music industry did rumors start spreading like wild fire in New York City that one of our musical legends by the stage name of Ti-manno had died. During that hectic week, many radio stations, and newspapers ran with the story until Ti-manno himself finally made an emotional phone call to a New York radio station a few weeks later announcing that he was alive but not doing well. More rumors started to circulate as to what was the cause of the musician’s ailing health. From rumors that he was poisoned, he had liver disease or somebody cast a voodoo spell on him due to his socially conscience lyrics to AIDS.
After receiving the phone call, the members of the media, artists, and fans launched a campaign called “Operasyon men Kontre” which was one of Ti-manno’s most popular songs geared toward Haitian unity. The purpose of this campaign was for Haitian to unite and help the ailing artist. “Operasyon men Kontre” set off and raised well over $15,000 which was suppose to go toward Ti-Manno’s hospital care, however the artist never got the chance to leave his hospital bed and died a couple of weeks later. On May 18, 1985, right after his death, thousands flooded the Eastern Parkway funeral hall in New York City where his viewing was held. Many artists, family members, media personalities and fans attended his viewing and funeral which was conducted by his brother who was a priest, to pay their respect.
Best known as a member of D.P. Express which brought such hits as David, a song named after the hurricane that swept Haiti in 1979, and left many Haitian dead and countless homeless. After obtaining popularity and success with DP Express, Ti-Manno then went on to form his own band Gemini All Stars. Ti-manno was a visionary figure in Haitian music. He touched many issues in his lyrics that were well ahead of his time and still plagues the world today. From the lack of unity among Haitian patriots, immigration issues Haitians faced aboard to the AIDS epidemic. He encouraged Haitians to unite and stop betraying their own. In a song entitled Nan Danje, Ti-Manno unveiled the dangers Haitians faced in foreign countries. He encouraged Haitians to stay in Haiti and help rebuild the country. When the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced that Haitians were part of the 4Hs (Homosexuals, Heroin addicts, Hemophiliacs, and Haitians) as most likely to have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus believed to cause AIDS in the early 1980s, Ti-Manno was the first artist to address the issue in the song entitled SIDA. Ironically, In 1985, following many protest, Haitians were taken off the CDC list, the same year he died. Ti-manno is considered today as musical prophet. He possesses exceptional powers of expression. Although some of Ti-manno’s visions were short lived, his legacy lives on today.