Album Review: Riva Nyri Précil Perle De Culture

“Legba anye wo / Nou pral pare solèy / Peyi a lwen Legba / Nou pral pare solèy”
During the opening minute, over spirited Haitian drumming, Riva and backing singers take turn repeating those phrases. Other players — drums, bass, guitars — join in at around 1m10s to create a frenetic rhythm, while a soprano sax improvisation-like performance gives the piece a jazzy feel. I’ve come across many “Legba” tunes over the years; this one is a new acquaintance which will no doubt become a good friend.

Danbala Wèdo | 2m43s

“Danbala Wèdo se nou menm o / Ayida Wèdo se nou menm o / M’pral fè yo wè sa”
That’s all there is to the lyrics, which aren’t at all familiar to me. Between the fantastic duelling guitar parts and Riva’s Sade-like smooth vocals, I had a tough time deciding where to focus attention. As any smart guy is wont to do, I gave priority to the lady. Yeah, smart guys also know what’s good for them.

Papa Loko | 4m00s

“Papa Loko ou se van / Pouse’n ale / Ou se papiyon / Wa pote nouvèl ba Agwe”
This Papa Loko is the tale of two songs. On the first 2m06s, she covers an old Voodoo ditty entitled Papa Loko Malad; the rest is dedicated to the more popular Paka Loko, where we find the above lyrics. Racine drumming has a strong presence throughout; the synthetic nature of the snare and the slightly distorted guitar give the arrangement an interesting edgy slant.

Makaya | 2m54s

My eyes lit up when I first saw the title. I prayed for a rendition of Issa El Saieh’s Makaya. Prayer. Declined! [I may need someone to show me how that prayer thing works.] This is a version I had not heard before. Riva starts off with humming before breaking into a languid “Makaya anye Makaya”. Her vocal tracks are supported only by a couple of guitar lines and teasing cello.

Se Bon | 3m56s

“Danbala Wèdo se bon / Ayida Wèdo se bon / Lè m’a monte chwal mwen / Gen moun k’ap kriye”
I’ve always associated those lyrics with the song Dambala Wèdo, as heard on versions by the likes of Azor. Being the curious type, I now want to know which one is the original name. One thing Riva made clear here is that Sinead O’Connor is not the only one who can split one syllable into several notes. Monvelyno Alexis steps out of the shadows for some lead guitar grooves over an unrelenting brass ensemble. He also shares lead vocal duties on the last ninety seconds.

Kriye Bòde | 3m56s

This is one track where I’ll have to opt out of the lyrics and simply enjoy the sound of Riva’s voice. [I am aCocteau Twins fan after all.] For, beyond “Kriye bòde”, I have no idea what she’s singing…even while staring at the text. Interestingly, Monvelyno’s accompanying guitars function in similar manner; they add wonderful colour and complexity to the arrangement, but aren’t necessarily musically “legible”. The one instrument that always speaks loud and clear, though, is that soprano sax.

Chita La | 4m42s

“Mwen chita la / Yo pa wè mwen / Lè m’a vire do’m ba yo / Ya lonmen non mwen”
I first heard this tune on RAM’s Kite Yo Pale album. You know…the RAM that once released great Racine records but can only do kanaval nowadays? Yeah, them! I love the distant-sounding backing vocals answering “Ya lonmen non mwen” to Riva’s “Lò’ m tounen… [briz van, oksijen, pousyè].” It’s as if they’re coming from a completely different room.

Atibon | 3m23s

“Ouvè baryè a pou Atibon / Papa Legba ki t’ape pase / Wa veye zo’w”
I’ll file this under the Unfamiliar Tune category. Sax dominated Rara is the best way to describe the style. I’m left unfulfilled whenever I hear Rara and pa gen son bout fè. NO, cowbell is not an acceptable substitute.

Moyiz Dezo | 4m37s

“Moyiz Dezo, pran sa pou prinsip o / Pa pote dlo pa kiyè / Pou plen kanari mwen”
Eddy François’ Zinga album was my first exposure to this song. [Note to self: unearth inter(e)view I did with Papa Jube for that CD.] It is believed that if you lose one of the five senses, the remaining ones are enhanced. Can you blame me, then, if I want to close my eyes when listening to this track? The young lady’s sensual voice, the dazzling guitars, mischievous bass, sizzling ride cymbals: I want enhanced hearing lest I miss any of it. The tranquility of that section is shattered at 2m28s by an all-out Racine fiesta with drums, sax, and added lyrics to take us to the finish line.

Twa Fey | 4m26s

“Twa fèy twa rasin o / Jete bliye ranmase sonje”
I might have first heard Twa Fèy while in my mummy’s womb. I sense a little glee in Riva’s voice. A short sax phrase holds the rhythm steady while Monvelyno drops some sonlari-like guitar grooves. Another great moment is when everything is stripped away, leaving only Riva and drumming. She could have done the entire track that way and I would still love it.

Batala | 3m34s

“Aleman se lwa dife li ye / Aleman se lwa lagè li ye”
I have no prior knowledge of Batala. Where has my Racine drumming gone? I’ll never be accused of being a fan of Soul/R&B. What I might be willing to confess to is that I’m sometimes guilty of making exceptions. My justification in this case could be the beautiful voice [of course]and that lethargic cello.

Nan Dòmi | 3m55s

“Nan dòmi yo vin di mwen / Peyi’m nan pa pou mwen ankò / … / Peyi’m nan vann depi lontan”
Funny, a friend recently told me the exact same thing during a phone conversation. She was carrying on about NGOs or something. This is a Riva original; it sounds every bit folkloric as the ones she’s been interpreting. Unmistakable roots rhythm, trademark exiguous lyrical content: it’s all there.

Ou Fe M’ | 3m26s

“Doudou ou fè’m tounen on bèl kap pou’w file’m ale / Doudou ou ban’m anpil fil mol lè van’an move”
Awwww! Is anything sweeter than a Woman In Love? Chimes, guitars and bass get things going, soon joined by the cello. That’s all Riva would need to deliver a stirring performance on this lovely little ballad. I take great delight in how Markus Schwarz keeps reaching into his bag of percussion tricks and pulling out a different…um…rabbit each time. Ti soufrans Riva bay nan fen mizik la fè’m anvi ba ti pitit la yon BIG HUG. “There! There! It’s Okééé!

Ti Zandò | 4m03s

“Ti Zandò Ti Zandò / Fèy nan bwa rele mwen”
The list of men I’ve heard cover this tune includes Eddy Prophète & Azor, the Issa El Saieh Orchestra, and James Germain. I very much welcome a woman’s voice to that discussion. Riva does her thing atop strong drumming and percussion; a one-minute-plus sax solo gives her a breather; she comes back and does her thing some more; The End.

Zantray Lavi | 4m36s

“Gade mèt minwi k’ape souri / Konsa nou menm n’ape rejwi”
This is another original composition. I hope you like lots of sax; I know I do. It has its nose in everybody’s business on this number. It helps out during Riva’s vocals; it serves as foundation for Movelyno to let his hair down on guitar; and still has enough left in the tank to duke it out with the percussion to close out the song. Oh, and Riva’s “ee-ee-ee” is irresistibly cute.

Mwen Bezwen W’ | 5m39s

“Syèl mwen vid / Cheri gade / M’bezwen zetwal ou / Solèy kè’w pou klere jou mwen”
Monvelyno’s voice complements Riva nicely on this original Konpa duet; they both sound at home with the genre. Shedly Abraham is on Drums; a certain Ti Bebe is on synthesizer. I think the synth parts should have been done with sax, or cello even. The idea that modern Konpa can’t do without some cliché electronic sound is both absurd and worrisome. Having said that, I do submit that the synth parts here are tastefully done: not loud or over the top; solo isn’t showy and is unusually quite muted. This is otherwise an extraordinary piece, a pleasant bonus surprise. I wouldn’t mind hearing more Konpa from this talented couple.

:: Words Are Very Unnecessary ::

I first thought this review would consist of a few general comments about Perle De Culture. But with each track I played, it was becoming more apparent that I couldn’t possibly do it justice in two or three paragraphs. And by the time I was half way through the album, I knew this was no ordinary record; I had no choice but to dig in and go for the special track-by-track treatment [Patent pending].

Riva Nyri Précil’s performance on Perle De Culture is nothing short of astonishing. I won’t try to compare her timbre to other female vocalists, but her delivery style/mood brought out the Sade lover in me in a hurry. There’s so much grace, calmness, confidence, and maturity in her voice. And luckily for listeners, her producer, Monvelyno Alexis, did a fantastic job showcasing her beautiful vocals. I really dig his approach and overall sound. [Hmm, dare I make a Makarios comparison?]

Riva and her team of talented musicians did splendidly adding a jazzy touch to these old Haitian favourites. But what impresses me to an even greater degree is the quality of her four original compositions. They prove that this young artist can deliver the goods on many levels and has a promising future — assuming Monvelyno Alexis doesn’t asphyxiate her career, as Jeff Wainwright has done to Misty Jean’s. In her press release, Ms. Précil says, “Perle De Culture is my way of supporting, preserving, and exposing the beauty of Haitian culture. It is my gift to the people of Haiti and around the world…” Well, I say it is a gift indeed, a beautiful gift from a gifted artist, a gift which other Haitians may want to accept and cherish. Riva rivé. Pa tann sé lè li viré do’l pou nou lonmen non’

:: Musicians ::

Riva Nyri Précil: Lead Vocals. Cassandre Joseph: Backing Vocals, Monvelyno Alexis: Backing Vocals, Guitars, Malcom Parson: Cello, Jeremy Powell: Saxophone

Rick Becker: Trombone, Chico Boyer: Bass, Féquière Joseph: Drums, Jean-Marie Brignol: Haitian Drums, Markus Schwartz: Percussion,Mamoudou Konaté: Djembe/Talking Drum.

© Inkou



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Rutshelle Guillaume

Biography of Rutshelle Guillaume …
Born in Port-au-Prince on July 28, a family of three children, Rutshelle GUILLAUME is the only daughter of her Father. At the age of five, she began to sing at the church of God of Boulard directed by Pastor Louis DESTINVAL. His passion for music takes him to 19 years, in the group “REL”, a musical formation composed for the most part of young musicians of the National School of … Arts (ENARTS). She was able to meet her husband, Walner O. Registre (Doc wor) band leader of the group Rèl, father of her beloved daughter (Ruth-Warly O. Registre). Rutshelle is one of the most listening and charming women’s voices on the air today. Her opus “KITE M KRIYE” is asked and asked again in the shows to which she is invited to produce. This song, according to her, comes out of the particular to reach the social. Rutshelle, Philosopher of formation, joined the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of the State University of Haiti (U.E.H) in 2008. After completing her studies, she is currently completing her research in order to obtain her degree in philosophy. – Former Professor of Grammar and Philosophy at New Bird College. Rutshelle Guillaume currently works as: Protocol Officer attached to the Kiosk of the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad (MHAVE) at TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE International Airport. – During a training on vocal techniques organized by James Germain, Emmeline Michel and Stevenson Théodore at the Fokal in 2011, his performance on stage enabled him to surprise Yole DEROSE, in search of young female talents for his project “Haiti Heart of Women “. She chose to be part of her project. While awaiting the release of her album, she presents to the public the opportunity to discover it in her song titled “KITEM KRIYE” which is video-clip. In addition, Rutshelle had already participated on numerous projects with several artists and musical groups, such as: – Roosevelt SAILLANT, known as BIC Tizon dife: “Mesi ti cheri doudou” a song from his latest album entitled “Kreyòl sings Kreyòl Konpran” . Doc Filah: “Trèv pou amoni”, a song from his album “Akrilik sou twal rezon” – Eunide Edouarin dit (Eud) and Aristor Oberson says (Dad Crazy): “Fòk mwen fete”, a song of their album “Limyè wouj” – Jean Bernard Félicien dit (Hurricane) and Valkency Décembre dit (K-lib): “yon lide”, a song from their album “Knock Out” – Barikad crew , konplèks, bafon plafon “, songs from the album” RED “. To name but a few



Neefah Song

Prior to launching her musical career, Neefah got her start by auditioning for the Brooklyn High School of the Arts; a specialized arts school where she majored in vocal music. In addition, she took Music Theory for she believes reading and writing music should be a very important factor in any musicians training.

Neefah excelled in the program and later attended the AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts where she graduated in 2006 with a degree in Musical Theater. She also graduated from the Barbizon School of Modeling the same year. Upon both graduations, Neefah began pursuing music full-time.

Stephanie “Neefah” Fontus was born on February 21st in Brooklyn, NY to a Haitian mother and a Haitian and Bahamian father. Her father, a professional bassist didn’t give her much support or encouragement when it came to music and her mother supported his decision because they didn’t want their daughter to make a career in music instead they encouraged her to complete her studies and have a normal and stable life and career. Neefah heeded her parents’ advice however it was in school where she actually found the drive and necessary encouragement that she needed and it came from her music teacher. Through her teaching and mentoring, Neefah finally felt secure enough to pursue her dream in entertainment.

Neefah went on to perform at some very prestigious events and places such as the United Nations, FAME on 42nd Street (Broadway Musical), VH1 Hop Hop Honors where she opened the show, she sang the national anthem at the Yankees’ stadium for the Mets twice to name a few.

With her career looking bright Neefah still felt the need to please her parents and obtain a degree in criminal justice but her heart still remains in music.

Neefah’s musical training and experience may be outside of the Haitian Music Industry’s (HMI) realm, she is no novice to the industry. Neefah’s collaborations include Dola Mizik, Clinton Benoit, Madman JP and Charlot Maitre on lead vocals.

Neefah’s new single entitled “Nobody but you” is officially released and Neefah is currently in the studio adding the finishing touches to her album slated for a Summer release.

Written by Cheyna Pierre



Yves Joseph

Yves Joseph

Background vocal

A Native of Petion-Ville, Yves Joseph, better known as Fanfan, is one of the original members of the band. Fanfan started with the band in 1968 playing the congas. In the 80’s, he moved to the front as an additional vocalist in support of Shoubou. The two have formed an impressive singing duo for the last 45 years. Fanfan is, undoubtedly, one of the most important and versatile members of Tabou Combo. Apart from being the band background vocalist, he’s also the band’s manager and main songwriter. Fanfan is a graduate (Cum Laude) from City College with a major in International Relations and a minor in Education. In the Summer of 2000, Fanfan became the first Haitian artist to land an endorsement deal with a major U.S. company when he signed with LATIN PERCUSSION (LP). Fanfan said his most positive experience with Tabou Combo was when the hit single NEW YORK CITY was released. ‘It is a good feeling to hear your songs everywhere you go in Europe, in jukeboxes, major radio stations, and Clubs,’ said Fanfan. ‘The attention you get, the pampering and the fame is unbelievable…’



Yvon Andre

Yvon Andre


It was in 1968 when then fifteen year old percussionist Yvon Andre, known to all as Kapi, became a member of Tabou Combo. Back then the young musician had to sneak out of his family’s home in Petion-Ville to play with the band due to the fact that his parents were determined not to let their son become a musician. However, his love for music was too strong to be stopped. Kapi said he could have become anything, but he chose to be a musician because he loves music. It is that love that has motivated him to stay with Tabou Combo for so many years. Kapi is not just a mere percussionist; he’s also a pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. Kapi has penned many of Tabou’s hit songs. He has also written most of the band’s Spanish songs including FIESTA and PANAMA QUERIDA. The latter he co-wrote with Fanfan. Kapi said his most memorable moments as a member of Tabou was in 1998 when he traveled to the Ivory Coast to receive a lifetime achievement award on behalf of Tabou Combo, and again when RFO (French radio/television) honored Tabou Combo in Martinique; those, he said, were historical moments.



Tabou Combo


“Rhythm is the essence of Tabou Combo,” says Tabou Combo’s co-founder and ex-drummer Herman Nau. The infectious rhythm of Haiti’s national dance music, Konpa (con-pah), has propelled the country’s preeminent dance band around the world. The 12 members of the band have covered many territories since leaving Haiti and relocating to New York City in 1971. By that time, Tabou had already established itself as Haiti’s number one group, and as the “Ambassadors of Konpa.” Tabou Combo now has worldwide fans and followers from London to Paris, Holland, Switzerland, Japan, South America, throughout the Caribbean and in North America.

It is easy to understand why Tabou Combo’s relentless and high-energy style of Compas dance beat knows no language barrier. Singing in English, Spanish, French or their native Creole, Tabou serves a hot mix of grooves and textures with roots from around the world. You will hear a strong dose of the Dominican Republic’s national dance music, meringue. In addition, there is Haiti’s dance-till-you-drop carnival music, rara, the hypnotic drums of Haitian voodoo rituals. Add to that quadrilles and contra-dances from Haiti’s French colonizers and funk from the American soul era to James Brown for good measure. The mixture of all these influences makes for a serious bass line that brings new meaning to the word bottom; layer upon layer of accents courtesy of drums, percussion and congas; the constant intertwining of two guitars with the feel of West African Soukous topped with bright piano riff and the brassy sound of a 3-man horn section.

Tabou Combo got started in 1968 in Petion-Ville, a town just outside Port-au-Prince, by Albert Chancy and Herman Nau and some friends, all in their teens. They began by naming themselves “Los Incognitos” because they were unknown at that time. They changed to Tabou Combo in 1969, in order to bear a name closer to the Haitian culture. That year, the band won first prize in a televised talent contest, gaining a national reputation in Haiti, and by 1970 it was one of the island’s leading bands. Then the Chancy’s parents stepped in, and Albert, the band’s guitarist, and original, leader was sent to college in Montreal and gave up music. The band dissolved and its members drifted to the United States. Early in 1971, however, an unexpected meeting led to a Tabou reunion with rhythm guitarist Jean-Claude Jean as the leader and the band has been together, with a few changes, ever since.

Employing the repetition and breaks of Afro-American gospel music, TABOU COMBO entices the listener to become listener and dancer. Almost four decades after TABOU COMBO’s establishment, the band has audiences dancing everywhere from concert halls to the streets and in nightclubs around the world. Says Fanfan, the band’s background vocalist and main songwriter, “We want people to dance and forget their sorrows.”

There is no doubt, the music is made for dancing, but Tabou also features lyrics that focus on social issues of the day. For example, the lyrics from the title cut of the group’s 1991 release ZAP ZAP deal with uplifting the image of Haitian people in the wake of bad press connected to the AIDS epidemic.

It was 1974 when the band captured Europe’s attention with its million-selling hit single NEW YORK CITY. Tabou steadily has been building its international followers ever since. The 1989 release, AUX ANTILLES (The Antilles), topped European and Caribbean charts for six consecutive weeks. AUX ANTILLES also won Best Album for Haitian Dance Music at the 1991 1st Annual Caribbean Music Awards at New York City’s famed Apollo Theater. Tabou’s release, KITEM FE ZAFEM (Let Me Do My Things), was voted among Beat Magazine’s Best of 1988. In 1989, KITEM FE ZAFEM, along with ZAP ZAP were used by the film director Jonathan Demme in his movie MYSTERY DATE. The song JUICY LUCY was chosen by French movie maker Maurice Pialat for his movie POLICE (1985). In 2002, world known guitarist Carlos Santana recorded the song MABOUYA (Foo Foo) on his album SHAMAN.

After traveling around the world with Tabou, Fanfan says he has found that people everywhere are all the same and they all love music. TABOU COMBO seduces the people with rhythm that does not let go. Konpa’s unrelenting dance beat is contagious and there are plenty of witnesses. Many of the thousands of TABOU COMBO fans around the world eagerly will testify… that is if they can stop dancing long enough to talk!





Based out of Hollywood, Florida, Dat7 is a Haitian band with a style deeply rooted in the finest tradition of Compas Direct with Zouk and R&B influences. Dat7 came into existence in late 2014 when former bandmates and longtime friends, Ricot Amazan (conga drums), and Eddy Viau (percussionist), join forces and created the band. They were later joined by Vladimir Alexis (drums), and Olivier Duret (vocalist), to complete the ensemble. Dat7 has created quite a stir since releasing their debut album VERDICT in October of 2015. Having been awarded the “Revelation de L’année 2015” award and the Haitian Academy Award in 2017, Dat7 continues to position itself as one of the most notable new bands, especially for their superb live performances.




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