The NWAYO Project


NWAYO (pronounced n-wah-yo) is a Creole word that refers to the hardest part of the fruit, or the core, and aptly represents the ensemble’s deep connection to music. The NWAYO project spawned from a collective of musicians representing a great variety of musical styles including contemporary and traditional Afro-Cuban, Jazz, Funk, Haitian Racine, Salsa, and Gospel. It explores and pays homage to the diverse musical traditions of the Americas.


NWAYO members are bandleaders, composers and arrangers in their own right and have performed extensively with acclaimed musicians at prestigious venues and festivals worldwide, including the Barbican (London, UK), Rocking Rio Music Festival (Rio, Brazil), Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (Moscow, Russia), Newport Jazz Festival (Rhode Island, USA), Java Jazz Festival (Jakarta, Indonesia).


Individually, they have performed with artists as diverse as Herbie Hancock, Billy Preston, Wynton Marsalis, Toumani Diabaté, George Duke, Madonna, K.D. Lang, Patti Labelle, The Roots, Al Jarreau, Wyclef Jean, Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke, just to name a few.


As educators, humanitarians and ambassadors, members of NWAYO have traveled to Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, Mali, Ethiopia, Russia and China to help promote cross-cultural understanding and introduce thousands to America’s indigenous art form through public concerts, master classes, and jam sessions.


NWAYO band members include:


Pauline Jean (vocals)

Axel Laugart (piano)

Godwin Louis (alto sax)

Allan Mednard (drums)

Jonathan Michel (bass)

Markus Schwartz (percussion)


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