Mervin Toussaint | Artist Press Kit
Debut Album - Lakay
As a precursor to the full release, "Lakay" will be released as a single on all digital platforms on September 9th. Additionally, "For Lor" will be released as a single on all digital platforms on September 23rd. The full album will be available for purchase on Mervins’ Bandcamp page on October 14th.
Mervin Toussaint’s debut full length album “Lakay” offers a bold opening statement from the thoughtful and Soulful saxophone player and composer that will take you on a journey of illustrious melodies, rhythms and emotions. “Lakay” meaning “home” in Haitian Kreyol tells a story of Mervin discovering his personal definitions of home through meaningful relationships in his life. Mervin pays homage to the relationships he holds with religion, community, heritage and family members of past, present and future. Mervin honors these relationships with his unique voice that is rooted in his musical upbringing in the Haitian Christian Church as well as his devotion to the aural tradition associated with jazz music. We invite you to discover this inviting musical home Mervin has created by exploring the compositions, artwork and liner notes available in this EPK.
Mervin Toussaint is an emerging saxophonist and composer making waves as both a performer and educator in the Philadelphia area. A Haitian American, Toussaint grew up in the Haitian church which provided an important incubator for his musical voice. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2016 Mervin has embraced the musical influences around him including Jazz, RnB, Neo-soul, and other contemporary styles into his own voice. He has presented his music as a leader in a wide array of venues and spaces, including South Jazz Kitchen, Chris’ Jazz Cafe, Paris Bistro, and the MAAS building. He has also performed as a soloist at a variety of churches, including the historical Tindley Temple United Methodist Church. As a side musician, Mervin actively collaborates with rappers, poets, and spoken word artists and incorporates those mediums into his original compositions; his five-song debut EP, Another Name for Everything reflects his diverse musical language creates a beautiful preamble to his first full-length release in the fall of 2022.
As an educator, Mervin started teaching private lessons and working as a teacher at the University of the Arts summer program. His approach to teaching expanded when he became an intern at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing arts. There, he learned of the importance of community and culture in music education, teaching private lessons and working in afterschool programs in the city. Toussaint has moved on to work as a music teacher and administrator at Settlement Music School, where he serves as the Branch Coordinator of the Germantown branch.
This album chronicles my journey to find a home that I can identify as my own. As I grow as a person, I have come to understand home as the connections and relationships I build and foster throughout my life. This includes relationships with people, culture, and spirituality.
Lakay means “home” in Haitian Kreyol. I was born into a home that provided an abundance of great food, rich culture, and a worldview that I adopted as my own. As I grew up and developed my own understanding of the way the world works, I began to feel disconnected from the feeling of home that I once knew. The first few years after college were difficult. While my basic needs were met, I harbored a great feeling of dissatisfaction with myself. I had a roof over my head, but I did not have a home. Something didn’t feel right. After doing some soul searching I started to realize that it was up to me to create my own home. I had to do the work to find out what was important to me. I started to furnish my home with people, customs, and worldviews that felt true to me. Although I am still on that journey, I have never felt more at home than I do now.
Tido is named after my uncle Ti Degramme, who passed away in June 2021 due to complications with COVID-19. My uncle was a pillar of empathy and strength in my family growing up. Those are two qualities that I attempt to carry in myself. As I grow and experience more of this world, I realize how difficult it is to truly embody those characteristics. When I come across difficult situations, I often find myself wondering what my uncle would have done.
For Lor was a piece written after the passing of my mother-in-law, Lorri Kanig Halberstadt. Such a tragic experience opened up deep pockets of empathy for my wife and all those who knew her better than I did. I have seen first-hand how death can change the ones closest to the deceased, for better or for worse. Even though we are still experiencing the ramifications of her passing, we can take solace in the bonds that have strengthened as a result of this tremendous loss.
Fore is a nod to the start of my journey of finding myself and what my home is. I wrote this song a few months after leaving school and entering the professional world. One of the first epiphanies I had was that I have always been on this journey, in one way or another. As I end one part of my journey, I begin anew. The cyclical nature of the song speaks to the cycle created by embarking on new beginnings and new endings.
A Devotion can be defined as religious worship or observance. I learned much of what I know about music in church, and spirituality deeply informs my craft as a musician. One of the things that attracted me to the African American tradition of playing music is the deep sense of spirituality that permeates the music I hear. I hope that with every note, you will be able to hear my music reaching for something greater.
Alma is a name that I would consider naming my child if I were to have a daughter. The name came up in an ongoing conversation with my wife about baby names. The song is written in reference to me daydreaming about the person I think my daughter would be. Would she be reserved and laid back, like me? Would she be warm and talkative, like her mother? What would she look like? It can be so much fun to lose ourselves in visions of the future. Alma is a gesture to what the future could have in store for me.
Dear Walter was written after the Killing of Walter Wallace Jr in West Philadelphia. After hearing about the news of his killing, I did a bit of research into who he was and the events leading up to his death. He suffered from mental health issues and was having an episode when the police were called. The thing that stood out to me the most was the amount of confusion and distress he must have experienced. I wrote the piece as a lullaby to help his soul rest.
El is a generic word for a deity. This song explores the excitement and wonder that comes from a relationship to the source. I have been exploring spirituality and trying to figure out my own relationship with God. After realizing how much my perspective on God and the world has grown, I have been seeking out new ways to understand and embrace my point of view. I felt at odds with the experience for a while, not feeling like I understood where my faith was leading me. Now, I think I’ve been able to find a sense of peace on my journey to discover who or what God is for me. It feels great!
For bookings and other inquiries, contact Mervin directly.
Phone: (609) 600 0530