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Wyclef Jean is a Haitian American musician, actor, producer and former-member of the hip hop trio The Fugees. Born on October 17, 1972 in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, he was named Wyclef Jean after John Wycliffe by his foster father.
Wyclef Jean moved with his family to northern New Jersey. He has been a resident of Saddle River, New Jersey and South Orange, New Jersey. In 1994, he married Haitian-American fashion designer Marie Claudinette Pierre-Jean.
The couple have one daughter, Angelina Claudinelle, whom they adopted in March 2005. On an episode of Tyra, Jean explained that Angelina's name comes from being an angel rather than being after Angelina Jolie, a friend of the family.
With Wyclef Jean, the Fugees signed to Ruffhouse Records, who issued the band's debut album, Blunted on Reality. The album fell short of expectations and sold poorly, but follow-up album The Score sold over 18 million copies worldwide.
In 1997, Jean announced to start off his solo career with 1997's Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival Featuring the Refugee All-Stars (generally called The Carnival). The music record featured guests such as Hill and Pras along with Jean's siblings Melky Sedeck and Farel Sedeck Guerschom Jean, the I Threes (back-up vocals for Bob Marley), The Neville Brothers and Celia Cruz. The Carnival turned out to be a major success and it boke the doors down for him.
Jeans the Carnival spawned two hit singles: We Trying to Stay Alive (adapted from The Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive) and Gone Till November (recorded with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra). During this time, the Fugees, on the other hand, remained in limbo with the follow-up to The Score being continually postponed as all three members began solo careers.
At the concert Woodstock 1999, Jean paid homage to 1969 Woodstock performer Jimi Hendrix by setting fire to his guitar after playing The Star Spangled Banner, and burnt his fingers while doing so. Wyclef came up with his second solo album The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book in 2000. The album featured Youssou N'Dour, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kenny Rogers, The Rock and Mary J. Blige.
With Blige Wyclef Jean released 911 as a single. Jean was nominated for Best Hip-Hop Act at the 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards. He appeared with his third album, Masquerade, in 2002. In the last quarter of the next year, he released The Preacher's Son as the follow-up to his first solo album, the Carnival.
In 2004, Jean released his fifth album, entitled Sak Pase Presents: Welcome to Ha?ti (Creole 101). Most of the albums songs are in his native language of Haitian Creole. Jean also covered Creedence Clearwater Revival's song Fortunate Son for the soundtrack of the 2004 film remake of The Manchurian Candidate. He also wrote the song Million Voices for the film Hotel Rwanda.
Besides producing his own music, Wyclef Jean also produced and wrote songs for the soundtrack to Jonathan Demme's 2003 documentary The Agronomist, about the Haitian activist and radio personality Jean Dominique. Jean together with Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis, also composed the score of the documentary Ghosts of Cite Soleil.
In the documentary, he appeared onscreen speaking by telephone in 2004 to a chimere gang-leader and aspiring rapper, Winston 2Pac Jean. Fueled by a reunion performance in Dave Chappelle's Block Party during a period between 2004 and 2006, it appeared that the Fugees were on track to record a new album, however Fugees member Pras claimed to Billboard To put it nicely, it's dead.
Jean has also been active in his support of his native country and created the foundation Yele Haiti to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to Haiti. In 2005, Wyclef Jean established the Yele Haiti Foundation. The foundation aimed to provide 6,800 scholarships to children in Port-au-Prince, Gonaives, Les Cayes, Port-de-Paix, and Cap-Haitien.
With funding by Comcel, Jean provided scholarships to 3,600 children in Gonaives, Haiti, after the devastation by Hurricane Jeanne in its first year of operation, the foundation. In the second year of operation, it is almost doubling the amount of the scholarships and spreading them throughout Haiti, providing tuition in 5 regions.
Wyclef Jean describes Yele as a non-political organization intended to empower the people of Haiti and the Haitian diaspora to rebuild their nation. In an interview he said, The objective of Yele Haiti is to restore pride and a reason to hope, and for the whole country to regain the deep spirit and strength that is part of our heritage.
Yele Haiti was created in October 2004 with Wyclef's cousin Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis and humanitarian experts Sanjay Rawal and Natabara Rollosson. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were present for the first anniversary of the launch in 2006.
Acknowledging his contributions for the Yele Haiti Foundation, Jean became a roving ambassador for Haiti, to help improve its image abroad in January 2007.
In September 2007, Wyclef Jean released an album that he recorded in Atlanta, Georgia with the help of T.I. Jean released a new song called Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill) featuring Lil' Wayne, Niia and Akon, which references the song C.R.E.A.M. by the Wu-Tang Clan.