Singing Night and Day: Michaëlle Martial of the Caribbean Nightingale
Michaëlle Martial’s stage name, The Caribbean Nightingale, is fitting: Just like the bird, Martial’s song never ends, strongly singing through both the light and dark. “To me, singing both day and night means you rise and help yourself and help other people feel uplifted in both good and bad times,” Martial says. “In a way, I felt like it was a no brainer to start a business and try to promote the healing power of the arts.”
The Caribbean Nightingale is much more than a stage name—it is an organization that has been working to cultivate community with artistry far before the LLC was finalized in October of 2020. From Relaxation Through Verse (intimate poetry shows featuring BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists) to Cupcakes for Breakfast, (an artist meet-and-greet hosted by Martial) The Caribbean Nightingale has it all. On a personal level, Martial had been sharing her story through spoken word with the Salt Lake City community for years, doing performances, book signings and more. Starting the business was a slow process, but a steady one, Martial says, as the idea for Caribbean Nightingale continued to expand and grow. “When it comes to running the business of the Nightingale, it was a matter of trying to help other minorities, other women—Black women, specifically—feel that they have a voice,” she says.
“In a way, I felt like it was a no brainer to start a business and try to promote the healing power of the arts.”
Relaxation Through Verse, which started back in 2018 out of a Caribbean restaurant, has now grown into a recurring event. The performers receive payment and support, and the audiences receive a creative show like no other. Relaxation Through Verse isn’t an open mic, where Martial says the main goal is packing as many people into one space as possible. “Our main focus is to have a very clean and uplifting experience—a one-on-one, intimate setting type of thing where you can have exchanges between the artist and the audience,” she says.
While the setting has been forced to become virtual in the wake of the pandemic, Martial aims to return to in-person events soon. Still, the pandemic hasn’t stopped Martial’s dream of fostering conversations between communities. “I hope that other community members will feel more inclined to open their minds to other communities,” Martial says. “We’d like community members to take away the power they have within themselves when they come. I hope that the community will consider attending Relaxation Through Verse as part of their self-care routine.”
The Caribbean Nightingale also sells coffee on their website in what’s dubbed the Poetry Cafe. But that’s not all—the TiGla Boutique, an online store where local Black artisans can sell their products, has a special place in Martial’s heart. After her mother passed in October 2019 [Editor’s note: The print edition of this article incorrectly names the month of Martial’s mother’s passing. The online version has been updated to reflect the correct information.], Martial realized she wanted a space to honor her mother’s caring, artistic legacy, and it came in the form of the boutique. “She always was there for the women in the community, especially for young girls, and I realized, ‘Oh my God, I’ve missed that,’” Martial says. “I missed that part about her that made me feel happy, that saw me for who I am and helped the community.”
“I hope that the community will consider attending Relaxation Through Verse as part of their self-care routine.”
Martial knows she has ambitious goals, but with her dedication, these dreams are coming to fruition, even despite the hurdles of the past year. As a domestic violence survivor, Martial is passionate about supporting shelters all around the world. Currently, she’s organizing a partnership with a shelter in Ghana while also working with Utah-based domestic violence advocacy groups, hoping to create long-term partnerships and recurring donations. Martial also dreams of opening a brick-and-mortar for The Caribbean Nightingale where artists can connect with their environment and the community can unwind in a safe, welcoming space. “Just like the community needs us, we need the community,” Martial says. “Even though life is hard for each one of us right now, I feel like we have an understanding, and I feel so supported by the other artists I’ve collabed with. We’re in this forever, baby—it’s important for us to keep going.”
Little by little, Martial continues to build the foundation in support of her big goals. Although the journey might be long, Martial says she doesn’t mind waiting, especially if that means building it right. “As an artist, I see everything through the lens of a child filled with wonder, so I see a bright future,” Martial says. “We can make a beautiful place around us where we can coexist, and I just like to think that The Caribbean Nightingale Poetry Cafe and Boutique can help a tiny bit with that.”
Martial is open for booking several types of workshops and events. You can book her at caribbean-nightingale.com/bookings and explore all of what The Caribbean Nightingale offers at caribbean-nightingale.com. Funding is the biggest hurdle for The Caribbean Nightingale. If you’d like to support their missions to uplift local artists and domestic violence survivors, you can direct your donations to @Caribbean-Nightingale on Venmo, firstname.lastname@example.org on PayPal, and $CaribbeanNightingale on Cash App.