Haitian native lives US dream as Provo musician

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Phaya Buissereth poses on a chair. Phaya is one of the most popular DJs in the Provo area.
Haitian native Phaya Buissereth is a headlining DJ at many Provo events. (Phaya Buissereth)

Headlining DJ and musician Phaya Buissereth’s story cuts deeper than the music he plays.

Buissereth DJs at many Provo events.

With thousands of views on his videos and more than 6,000 likes on his Facebook page, Buissereth said he’s living his dream as a musician in Provo — but he said it all started at his home in Haiti.

Buissereth spent most of his youth in Haiti. He had a non-contagious skin disease called lymphangioma circumscriptum on his left shoulder. He said this skin condition made it difficult for him to make new friends or socialize with others around him.

“I couldn’t play sports because when the coaches found out that my shoulder would bleed sometimes if I got hit, they stopped me from playing,” Buissereth said. “Kids would make fun of me at school sometimes if they found out about my shoulder.”

He said conditions in Haiti were challenging. Buissereth struggled with the events happening in the country, such as unexplained murders and people being burned in the streets. He thought moving to America was the best option for his future and dreams.

“Where I’m from, people die in their dreams. They die dreaming and their dreams never come true,” Buissereth said. “I have a dream…it’s being in the U.S.”

Buissereth said his arm required treatment but his parents couldn’t afford the $500,000 surgery. His sister was serving a mission in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, at the time, and her mission president and wife heard about the issue and told her they wanted to help him, according to Buissereth.

President Win Hemmert and Sister Joyce Hemmert, Buissereth’s sister’s mission president and wife, reached out to Buissereth and offered their assistance. Buissereth was able to fly to America to get the surgery he needed and to begin a new life at the age of 16 with the help of the Hemmerts.

Phaya Buissereth with Provo mayor, John Curtis. (Phaya Buissereth)
Phaya Buissereth met with Provo Mayor John Curtis. (Phaya Buissereth)

“They became like my mom and dad,” Buissereth said.

Two years later, most of Buissereth’s family followed him to the U.S. His two brothers and his dad still live in Haiti, but his six sisters and his mom now live in Utah.

Adjusting to American culture was difficult at first for Buissereth, but he said his mother encouraged him to stay and pursue his dream of music. Buissereth served a mission in Rochester, New York, and is now studying business at UVU along with performing regularly at shows in Utah County.

“I’m not just a DJ; I’m a musician,” Buissereth said. “I’ve been writing music since I was 6 years old. That was the only thing that kept me happy when I was little. I could take the pain of all the things going on around me, and then I’d write it down, and I’d sing it.”

Kerby Louis is a BYU junior studying finance and a close friend of Buissereth. Louis said Buissereth is unique because of his ability to sing and DJ.

“There aren’t a lot of DJs here in Provo that do both,” Louis said. “It makes him very unique because he’s able to perform, and I think people like that whole performance in addition to the party DJ life.”

BYU sophomore studying psychology Travis Bogdan said he enjoys Buissereth’s parties because it brings him and his friends together.

“Me and all my boys go to Phaya’s parties for moral support. I love that we’re all together just having a good time. He’s a pretty good DJ,” Bogdan said. “He’s pretty popular.”

Students aren’t accustomed to hearing hip-hop music in traditional open mic settings, Buissereth said. He loves performing at parties because it gives him an opportunity to share his music with others, and he does so out of love.

“It’s not just the music — it’s the love,” Buissereth said. “When I see people happy, I just feel happy. If there was no love in it, I wouldn’t do it.”

Louis said Buissereth doesn’t live up to the stereotype associated with his career.

“With his career in music and stuff, at first people think he’s full of himself,” Louis said. “But he’s always willing to help with the small, simple things. Overall he’s just very dependable. There’s never been a time he’s let me down. He’s always a guy who, when he says something, he keeps his promises and he keeps his word.”

Buissereth has a large fan base of college students and high school seniors, according to Louis.

Phaya Buissereth is a headlining DJ at many of the events in the Provo area. (Phaya Buissereth)
Phaya Buissereth performs at a Provo party. He is a headlining DJ at many events in the Provo area. (Phaya Buissereth)

“I’d probably say he has some of the best, if not the best, parties in Provo. In terms of popularity as a DJ, I feel like he’s No. 1,” Louis said. “In terms of musicians, he’s probably No. 2 in popularity, right after Jamesthemormon.”

Buissereth hopes he can make an impact with his music. He said he hopes people who come to his parties have fun and enjoy dancing.

“I bring people out to let their stress go,” Buissereth said. “It’s not how much I make, but it’s ‘Are my people happy? Would they want to come back?’ I always want to give them a reason to come back.”

He also mentioned plans to donate the proceeds from his albums and parties to charities, and to buy food for developing nations.

“I want to make my dreams come true for the things I want to do to help others,” Buissereth said.

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