In the Haitian music industry there’s no science when it comes to an artist’s success. Some will make it instantly, some will struggle a bit, some will never make any impact, and some are only acknowledged long after their dead. Making matters worse, talent is not necessarily a deciding factor when it comes to your fate so when you have an artist like Kenny Desmangles, who is a very talents singer, song writer and have been known to tickle the ivories a little, it’s would be a crime not to acknowledge his efforts and many contributions to the Haitian Music Industry.
Kenny joined one of the top Haitian bands, Zenglen in November of 2006 after the sudden departure of the band’s two lead singers, Frero Jean Baptiste and Reginald Cangé. Some people might not have heard of Kenny before this event however Kenny had a long and extensive resume prior to that.
Born on the 28th of November in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Kenny Desmangles moved to the United States at the age of 13; however it was in Haiti Kenny revealed his talent and love for music with the help of his cousin who introduced him to all of the old school Haitian bands like Tropicana, by playing their songs around the house. Like most Haitian families, Kenny’s family wasn’t too happy about him becoming a musician and encouraged him to pursue a professional career to secure his future. In order to please his family, Kenny decided to put away his dreams and continue on with his education.
After immigrating to the U.S. with his family, he attended Louis D. Brandeis High School in Manhattan. He developed an immediate interest in sports. He joined the school’s soccer and basketball teams, but those extracurricular activities soon came to a halt after being viciously attacked by a school gang. It was during the time when Haitian students were tormented in school because of their nationality. Kenny decided he was going to stand up and defend his fellow Haitian classmates, a decision that almost proved fatal as he was stabbed and wounded after being attacked by 15 of the gang members. He was rushed to the hospital where he spent over a month and underwent surgery to survive his wounds. He spent his birthday in the hospital, a birthday he will never forget. His English teacher, who took a liking to him because of his academic excellence, bought him a piano along with his homework and told him to use it so he can pass the time.
After recovering from that experience, Kenny went back to school and carried his piano with him where ever he went. One day while walking around the school grounds, he met a young man by the name of Rudy Appollon who asked him if he knew how to play the piano and he hesitantly replied “No, I just mess around with it, can you play?” The young man took the piano from him and started playing it and after finding out they attend the same church, Holy Name, in Manhattan, which Kenny was already a member of the church’s choir and so was his new friend; they became the best of friends. They later on formed a band called “Zouke” and performed at the church’s talent shows just around the time the “nouvelle generation” movement started to emerge.
After graduating from high school, Kenny decided to pursue his dream. He attended Hunter College and earned a business degree. During his college years Kenny became a part of a band called Siwel with Ralph Menelas (Zenglen) and Theo (Kreyol La). The band started performing for his school’s Haitian Club which expanded to other colleges.
After Siwel separated due to members graduating and heading in different directions, he received a phone call from Riguad Simon who got in contact with him after Armstrong Jeune personally requested him to join a band they were putting together called New York All Stars, a New York based band with some of the best musicians the industry had to offer such as: Armstrong Jeune, lead vocalist, Makarios Cesaire guitarist, Shedly Abraham drummer, Yves Abel bass player and Welmyr Jean Pierre on keyboard. Kenny became one of the band’s vocalists.
In the year 2000, New York All Stars released the album “Pou La Vie”, which consists of 10 songs and Kenny, wrote 4 of them; Kago Konpa, One More Chance, Ou Ka di’m Sa, which he sung on the album and Nap fe yo Sezi sung by Armstrong Jeune. New York All Stars never really took off despite releasing one of the best albums during that time. While traveling to Florida with NYAS, Kenny met his old Siwel band mate Ralph Menelas and started working on a collaboration project. He later on gave NYAS his later of resignation to pursue the project. The collaboration project turned into full band project and 509 was born.
Like NYAS, 509 too never got off the ground. “Till this day I can’t explain it… maybe one day I might be able to sit down and talk about it but for now I really don’t understand why 509 never really took off.” ~Kenny
Despite releasing a very well-known song Fake, 509 was never accepted amongst the popular bands arena. Then came that faithful day in November when Kenny received a call from longtime friend Richard Herard of Zenglen who placed an SOS call to him when the two of the band’s lead singers decided to leave the. Kenny, without any hesitation came to the rescue. Kenny spent 9 years with Zenglen and finally decided to reestablish his own band, 509 with former band mate and co-owner, Ralph Menelas. Today Kenny has officially released the band’s second single “No More Pain” and the band is supposed to release their album early next year. is moving Kenny’s way!