Singer-Virginia Mahotiere-Louis – A talented female artist with a world-class reputation. Nia is known for her unique voice and her ability to thrill her fans with her great stage presence. Born and raised in Miami; Nia grew up to the sound of her mother’s vinyl’s, ranging from: The Gap band, Jackson 5, Skah Shah, and Koupé Kloué. She was influenced by American and French music, which gave her the perfect platform to build her musical career. After more than 10 years of performing in one of the well known Haitian band, “Zin”. One of the founders of the band announces they were taking a break. During that time Nia seized the opportunity to take a break herself from the music scene and start a family. Thus, she took the break from the stage full-time, Nia was still making occasional appearances and performing as a solo artist for different venues. Over the years, Nia has collaborated with other bands, producers, and other Haitian artists, like: Carimi, Alex Abellard, Lionel Bejamin, Beethova Obas, Belo, Arly Lariviere, Princess Lover, Tina, Nickenson Prud’homme, Shabba, Tina, Krys Gabriel, Princess Eud, and many more. Nia’s passion for entertainment cannot be quantified, because she is always trying to reinvent herself to bring the best music to her fans. Now, Nia is embarking on a new journey with her band PäSH. This time around, you will see a more versatile side of Nia. Her talent and professionalism are a few reasons to why she is still one of the elite female vocalists in the Haitian Music Industry.
Maestro- Daniel Eugene Jr – Dano was born in Miami, FL. However, was raised in Haiti, in a small town call “Cabaret”. Son of an eminent pastor in the town, he was raised in a religious and grounded home. As a child he did not know his musical gift yet, so out of boredom he asked his parents to enlist him into a small church’s music band, near their town to play the trombone. From that point he started to discover his love for music. When Dano migrated back to the United States, he became infatuated with the guitar. His determination pushed him to teach himself how to play the instrument.
He mastered at playing the guitar quickly. In his late teens, he got together with a few acquaintances at church and formed the Haitian Gospel Band called “Evangel”. With that band, Dano produced his first album and played both the guitar and keyboard for the band. By the time Dano had reached his early twenties, he was already playing professional keyboard for one of his favorite band “Zenglen”. Over the course of 12 years, he has played professional keyboard, produced, and collaborated with/for Haitian bands, like: Gabel, Revelation(Gospel), Disip, Bel Jazz, Shabba (Djakout #1) and more. Now, Dano is ready to exceed his potential by introducing his unique sound to the world through his band PäSh.
Keyboard Player- Gregory Previlon – He was born and raised in the north side of Haiti. A little town called “Okap”. As a young man, Gregory was intrigued by Haitian Music Industry (HMI), like: Tropicana, Zenglen, and Djakout. After he migrated to the United States, he was exposed to a vast of different cultures and sounds. His parents were religious, so they were strict and kept him in church. Watching his uncle and cousin perform in the church band, Gregory started to acquire the sounds and skills of Gospel.
Gospel became a nuance to him. At that moment his passion to become a musician has been fueled. After years of taking lessons from his uncle and cousin, in 2009 he made his first debut performance at his church as a Keyboard player. He is also talented vocally. Gregory has played in several Gospel bands in the HMI, and now he’s ready to make his mark in the Konpa and American scene by showcasing his voice and keyboard skills on stage with PäSH band.
Guitarist-Sebastien Tertulien – Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His parents were classical enthusiasts; they exposed Seby to the sophisticated sounds of Mozarts, Bach and Debussy at an early age. As a teenager, He was attracted to the addictive sounds of Sweet Micky, heavy Konpa sounds of System band, D-zine, Nu-look, Djakout, etc..
As Seby’s skills evolved, gospel music with a mixture of R&B, Jazz, and Pop became a vital part of his musical diet. He is set to sail towards his greatest adventure with PäSH band as their guitarist. Seby is excited to come and contribute his skills to our musically rich culture.
Congas Player-Ricardo Anilus – A talented musician born in the western part of Haiti, (Jean-Rabel). A musician not well known by the public, but well known by a lot of musician in the HMI. Because of his exceptional talent playing the congas, he had the privilege to perform with many bands and other musician in the HMI, such as: Boulot Valcourt, Beethova Obas, Jean Jean Roosevelt, Stephanie Sejour (Tifane), Renette Desir, Turgo Theodat. and with some great bands like Suav Mizik, Mawon, 5Etwal, Nu Look and many more.
Codo is thrilled to embarked on his new journey with PäSH band as their congas player. He is looking forward to showcase the full potential of his talent to the world. If you’re from the Islands, get ready to move your body to the beat of Codo’s congas. Even if you do not know the words.
Carlo Vieux, Richard Cavé and Mikael Guirand who had worked together in some area of music, almost simultaneously made the decision to further their education. Acknowledging that the state of their homeland, Haiti, was troubled and unstable, they each decided to leave and set their sites on the United States. Always driven by their passion for music, this small group reunited in New York to touch upon making their current past-time a potential career.
They soon found themselves surrounded by sound proof foam mats, extended boom of mics and a mixing board. To their surprise, each had the same desire to pursue their music and created the name for their band by the taking the first two letters of their first names Carlo Vieux , Richard Cavé and Mikael Guirand; alas, Carimi was born.
Hours and hours at the studio in the hopes of creating a new sound, one that was uncommon in the music industry at the time, the band found themselves putting on paper some profound, socially shared lyrics that encompassed the disorders of their native land. Haiti Bang, Bang, was released in the summer of 2001. Instantly, Carimi became a household name. They are known as one of the first younger generation digital bands to put out music that reflected upon the political pressures and the deteriorating security of Haiti. They had mass appeal to the Haitian diaspora who fled the country and through their allure lyrically, musically and of course sex appeal for the ladies, Carimi has thrived throughout the years.
Originated with 6, now there are 8. They included:
- Carlo Vieux: keyboard voice/leader
- Richard Cavé: keyboard voice/leader
- Michael Guirand: voice/leader
- Glenny Benoit: bass guitar
- Stanley Jean: tanbou
- Jean-Marie: conga
- Noldy Cadet: bass
- Marc C. Widmack: conga
- Alex Thebaud: percussion, voice
Carimi has received accolades from the International music scene, including Best Album of the Year. Carimi has risen to the top of the charts across the billboards in Haiti, Guadeloupe, Paris, French Guiana, Canada and parts of Europe. They became the first Haitian band to come out with a konpa mobile app.
- Bang Bang -2001
- Poze Aki -2002
- Nasty Biznis -2004
- Nasty Biznis: Live in Concert -2005
- Are U Ready? -2006
- Kite l’ Mache -2007
- Buzz -2009
- Invasion -2013
It was the 80’s, a quiet suburb of Port-au-Prince, where three friends who were destined to make history in Haitian music met. Every afternoon, a young Brutus would sit on his front porch and play the guitar. Garry Didier Perez, and his friend Patrick Martineau, often noticed him and one day invited him to come over Patrick’s house. They would meet every afternoon to listen to all genres of music and interpret their favorites. During one of their rehearsals, some beer bottles fell off an amplifier that was vibrating and shattered into a million pieces. The guys laughed at the fact that Patrick would have a hard time cleaning up the many tiny pieces off the granulated floor. They all exclaimed ZENGLEN (which means tiny pieces of broken glass) and from that day on this was their band’s name.
In 1989, the trio recorded “Koule Tan” (the color of time). Once completed, they took some tapes to several radio stations where hosts and listeners would become fans and fall in love.
Zenglen became one of the wonders of the early 1990’s as they released the hit song “Fidel” off of the album “An Nou Alèz.” In the song the band said that “change” is never easy and always faces obstacles, and resistance, but that they pledge to remain faithful (Fidel) to their mission which is to improve and modernize the Konpa rhythm.
The Konpa world was introduced to their new found stars like the guitarist and singer Brutus Derissaint and the lead singer Gary Didier Perez among others. In the song “Fidel” the band said: “Sé konsa se konsa se konsa la vi ya ye lè ou vle met chanjman reziztans tèt chaje.” Unfortunately after a U.S tour most of the band’s members abandoned ship and the band broke up into pieces like a real Zenglen.
In Miami Brutus never stop caressing the dream of keeping some of the pieces alive and had moved on with some attempts like the Zenglen Plus and a few solo albums in the 1990’s. Many musicians tried to help him to collect the pieces, but they often moved with their own projects like the creation of the band D-Zine. Nevertheless Brutus never lost faith and still remained fidèl (Faithful) to his mission by hiring more talented musicians each and every time. At the end of the century the acquisition of the drummer Richard Herard (Richie) and then singer Gracia Delva took Zenglen to the level of a very competitive Konpa band in the demanding market as they released the album “Easy Konpa” with nothing but major hits song that were going to move the band to the front burner of the industry. Ever since that time Zenglen hasn’t looked back despite the so many changes of personnel that occurred.
The album “Easy Konpa” was introduced to the public with the release of the video of the hit song “5 Dwèt” which boosted Zenglen to the top of the konpa scene. The song “B.S Productions” got the attention of the public as the song talk about unqualified show producers damaging the reputation of the bands. On that same album the band touched some subjects until then taboo as they talked about lesbians in the society in the song “Flannè Femèl” and drug used in the song “Ti Poud.”
In the following years Zenglen continued to amaze the Konpa fans all over the world with the releases of the albums “Let It Groove,” “Do It Right,” “5 Etwal.” The latest album, “5eme Vites,” sung by current lead vocalist Kenny Desmangles, touches subjects on society, relationships with top notch konpa, and proved again why critics have praised them as the Konpa University.
Over the years the Konpa observers have seen broken pieces that continued to break in even more pieces, but the band remains solid and true to their mission: Zenglen doesn’t change…Zenglen improve. Like they often say in their songs “Sé pa changé nou changé, se pi bon’n vin’n pi bon.
(Contributor: Staff Poze aka Konpa Anbassador)
With a unique sound, brilliant lyrics, and a devoted fan base, Klass is the up-and-coming Haitian band. Their first album, Fe’l Vini Avan, has been a huge hit, putting them on the musical map in Haiti, the United States, and beyond, and their following grows with every show they do.
Klass was founded in April of 2012 by Maestro Richie. A man of many talents, Richie is a highly respected Haitian musician. Whether playing the drums or singing the vocals, crafting the songs or acting as producer, Richie is Klass’ bedrock.
THE KLASS ROSTER
But Klass isn’t about one person — Klass is about collaboration, and every band member brings a vital talent to the band’s sound.
- Jean H. Richard (Maestro Richie): drummer
- Edersse Stanis (Pipo): lead singer
- Louixéne Floristal (Pozo)
- Nuxon Mesidor (Nixon)
- Wid Pierre (Carlo Cheveux)
- Sorel Sanson (Soso brezo)
- Kevin Gaippe (Belkod)
- Jean Pierre Francisque
- Abdel Lafrance
- Seth Merlin
- Grorges Lavaud: (sound)
- Hervé Bastien: (manager)
Djakout #1, is one of the most popular Compas bands from Haiti. In the later 1980’s original founder Dominique Lauture after winning an American Airlines jingle contest, decided to evolve in a direction that was now becoming the craze in Haiti, and form a group playing modern compas, with upbeat rythms and lyrics that the mass could both relate and identify with. This evolution is now what we know to be called the New Generation of Compas. In the 1990’s the band changed direction, and under the direction of renown guitar player Claude Marcelin, the band had a more solid repertoire, and included younger less renown musicians (at the time) such as Gracia Delva, and Edzer Charlemagne (T-Pouch)… this was the stepping stone to the building of a solid and fruitful road. The band shortly after released their new CD titiled “Dedouble”. This song sure enough became one of the top 10 hits of Haiti at that time. Djakout #1’s breakthrough came shortly after with the release of their second cd titled “Moso Lanmou” the mega hit on that CD was “Ma Seule Folie” which sure enough opened the doors to the band as it was through the release of this popular CD that the band travelled to perform overseas.
In June 1998 the band under the Label Antilles Mizik toured the United States, and released their 3rd CD Titled “ Septieme Ciel” another very popular cd, at the time which was well received by all Compas Fans, and especially those fans of the Newer Generation. By the release of this CD the band occurred several changes, due to the unrest in Haiti, as well as for personal reasons, and family obligations many musicians were forced to leave Haiti, and migrate overseas. It was during that time that musicians such as David Dupoux, Gracia Delva, and Claude Marcelin departed whereas musician such as Auguste Duverge, slowly but surely made his presence in the band known. For the next two years the band took a more solid direction and under management of Philippe Lebrun, Dominique Lauture, Claude Lebrun Jr,, Patrice Millet, and Carel Alexandre the band achieved a level of notoriety that they never thought they could imagine.
By year 2000, the band had an official roster, and new vision. The musicians included orginal founding players Tony Jean Baptiste, Edzer Charlemagne (T-pouch), Philippe Monfort (Bibol), Auguste Duverge (Pouchon), Rolls Laine(Roro), Louimane Absolu (Mamane), Herve Antenor (Shabba), and Reginald Bastien(Ti Regi). Together these musicians became an unstoppable force on the Industry. In the late 2001 early 2002 the band released their 4th cd “La Familia” which proved all people who questioned how much of an impact they could have attained. In addition to improving the sound, they embarked on a massive marketing approach that in turn lead the way for their 5th cd Manniguetta which was released in 2005. This cd featured the MEGA HIT “Biznis Pa’m” that broke all cultural and social barriers in our community. It was in fact the song that created the trademark for the band as Djazz Peyi-a (the Country’s Band). By this time the band was already touring the US, Canada, France, both greater and lesser Antilles, and the Caribbean. Little did they know that soon enough they were to be featured in 2007 on MTV with Wyclef Jean at New Years Eve at Time Square in NY. It was that same year they released “JISTIS” and were also were a featured band in Central Park in NYC during the summer. All in all the band still working, still producing Mega Hits, and Electrifying the Carnival in Haiti year after year winning awards at Carnival Champions back to back.
2010, the band at a crossroads both under new management, and tormented by the sadness that has plagued their native homeland, out of compassion for the victims of the January 12th earthquake that took the lives of many people, the band released their most recent CD titled “PWOFITE” (seize the moment). The musicians hope this CD to be their most impressionable endeavors, and although we will never truly be able to ever live our lives as we have in the past, they hope through sounds, melodies, and through their lyrics, and harmonies…they can encourage everyone everywhere whether victims of tragedy or not, seize the moment!
2011 The band had two exhilarating performances in 1 month. The month of May proved to be very exciting as the band headlined at both the New Orleans Jazz festival as well as the prestigious Zenith in Paris, France. In 2012 the band celebrated the successful release of band member Herve Antenor’s (alias Shabba) second solo cd, in which all members of the band participated. In 2013, in addition to have been recognized as the band who has participated most frequently in the Haitian Compas festival’s 15 years of existence, they were awarded Carnaval Champions in Haiti twice in one year! At both the National Carnaval held in February as well as the Carnaval des Fleurs held in July. They made front page news as Carnaval champions and were formally recognized by the Haitian president himself. At present they are looking forward to actively participating in many more concerts and events in both the USA and Overseas, and have also renewed their endorsement agreement with Digicel telecommunications, Haitian Cigarette manufacturer Comme Il Faut, and Haitian Rum manufacturer Rhum Bakara .
In just seven years, the mega-talented Haitian band Harmonik has made a lasting impact on the world music stage. Like a Phoenix rising, Harmonik has been soaring since their establishment such a short time ago and shows no signs of slowing down.
Meeting simply to enjoy music together, Nickenson Prud’homme was able to convince friends Mackendy Talon (Mac D) and Sanders Solon to join him on stage to perform a collaboration of songs one night at his studio. Taking the enjoyment one step further, Nickenson persuaded the guys to join him on a small tour in the Bahamas in December 2007, where their collective interest in a joint effort was ignited. After their first official sit-down together, the proud birth of Harmonik began.
By their premiere debut on August 15, 2008, the Harmonik buzz had reached overseas to Haiti and throughout the United States in places like Boston, New York, Atlanta and California. In a matter of months this Miami-based band quickly became the Haitian Music Industry’s official boy band. With an unquestionable swagger, a distinct dapperness and a sincere charm, this trio has become more than the talk of the town.
Breaking barriers is what they aspired to do and with the release of their chart-topping freshman 2008 album, “Jere’m,” Harmonik opened doors to people’s homes as a fan favorite. Their popular double-CD entitled “Ka-Po-Té LIVE” was released in 2009, showcasing the band’s unique ability to deliver memorable live performances. “Let’s Go,” Harmonik’s sophomore studio album hit the music scene in 2011 and featured Soca Queen Alison Hinds on the title track. Harmonik ended 2012 strong with a sizzling music video for the new single “Mwen Bouke.” The group’s much-anticipated third studio album is due to be released in 2013 and promises to satisfy music lovers across the international market.
Fan appreciation is what drives Harmonik. With the support of true music lovers, their goal of becoming one of the Haitian Music Industry’s top bands and of crossing over and introducing Konpa music to the world, is absolutely attainable.
Getting “Harmonized” has become one of their slogans, so prepare to catch the Harmonik fever.
Kassav’, the zouk group par excellence, which invented zouk, has become a living legend. All the Caribbean musical influences intermingle with funk and rock to produce an unusual, rhythmic cocktail. Enough to make the entire planet dance.
The story of Kassav’ (the name comes from cassava, which is a mixture of manioc paste and coconut) began in 1979 when Pierre-Edouard Décimus, a member of a dance orchestra since the sixties, decided to revamp and modernise the music he had always played along with Freddy Marshall, another musician from the Antilles. They adored popular carnival music, and so Decimus tried to adapt it to modern musical techniques. They also recruited Jacob Desvarieux, an established studio guitarist, and Georges Décimus, Pierre-Edouard’s brother, a bass guitarist, together with other studio musicians.
The group built up as it went along. The first formation went in to the recording studios in the November and brought out the first Kassav album, entitled “Love and Ka Dance”, a couple of months later. A new musical genre had been conceived: zouk. New sounds, particularly bass, keyboards and brass wind instruments, gave this music a modern, festive air, both lively and foot-tapping. This was when Kassav’ began writing the history of zouk.
The second album was called “Lagué mwen” and also came out in 1980. For the first time, Jocelyne Béroard’s voice is perceptible in the backing vocals, with Freddy Marshall in the foreground. On this album is one of their first hits, “Soleil”. Kassave began to mark the consciousness of an entire generation. On the crest of the wave, they brought out a third album in 1981 and the singer Jean-Philippe Marthély joined them, along with Jean-Claude Naimro on keyboards. In August, the group first appeared on stage, performing throughout the Caribbean. Considerable technical means were used. The group was accompanied by two dancers, Catherine Laupa and Marie-José Gibon, with structured choreography. They also joined in vocals from time to time. Success was assured.
In 1982, after a fourth, unnamed album, Kassav “broke up” and allowed each singer to bring out solo albums. Kassav’ was still there but as an accompaniment. Thus, Jacob Desvarieux brought out his album “Oh Madiana”, followed by Georges Décimus with “Avec Kassav’ et Cie”, on which a new singer appeared: Patrick Saint-Eloi. The latter then brought out “Misik ce lanmou”.
Ralph Thamar contributed to the fifth album of the group, published in 1983, with “My doudou”. The wheels were turning. Georges Décimus brought out another solo album, “La Vie”, as did Jacob Desvarieux with “Banzawa”, and Jean-Philippe Marthély with “Ti coq”.
This did not stop them working for the group, and at the end of the year they brought out the Kassav’ album “Passeport”. Then the seventh album, “Ayé”, came out in 1984. Patrick Saint-Eloi recorded his second record, “Zouké”. The group then went on tour again, during the carnival period in February and March, through Guadeloupe and Martinique. The tour resumed in August, even going to Haiti. Another Kassav’ album came out at Christmas that year, “Yélélé”, containing the track “Zouk la sé sèl médickaman nou ni” (Zouk is our only medicine). This hit brought the group international fame far beyond the Caribbean.
Kassav’ was on a high at the beginning of 1985. Jean-Philippe Marthély brought out a second solo album, “Rété”, followed by that of Jean-Claude Naimro on keyboards, called “An balatè”. Literally borne by the wave of popularity due to “Zouk la sé sèl médikaman nou ni”, the entire team began a tour of Africa. This was their first tour outside the Caribbean, and included a visit to the Ivory Coast in March, where they were a runaway success. Other African countries were toured and the musicians and singers seemed to find their roots and the origin of their music.
Kassav’ then found itself in metropolitan France for the first in a long series of concerts at the Zénith, the famous Paris venue, which was sold out a month ahead of the concert on June 22 1985, with no promotion at all. From July till the end of the year, the tour continued through various countries: Algeria, Guyana, Saint-Martin, Saint Lucia, Angola (with 30,000 people at the concert in Luanda), Portugal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Gabon, the Ivory Coast and, of course, the Antilles. To finish off this exceptional year, the two singers, Patrick Saint-Eloi and Jean-Philippe Marthély, brought out a new album, “Bizness”.
This was all a fir cry from the amateur groups from the Antilles which had been in existence before Kassav’ appeared on the market. In early 1986, they celebrated their first Golden Disc in front of an audience of 40,000 in Guadeloupe. From May 1st to 4th, they performed at the Zénith, a true Parisian consecration. The only dampener on the proceedings was the death of trumpeter André Laïdli, from badly treated jaundice during a series of concerts in Gabon.
On June 21, the festival of music in France, a Caribbean carnival was organised in Paris for the first time. At the end of the parade, the by now mythical group gave a concert for 250,000 people on the Reuilly sports ground. This was their opportunity to present “Gorée” (the island off Senegal where African slaves to be shipped to America were gathered). This was a record by Georges Décimus and Jacob Desvarieux, written after a visit to the Slave prison on the island. This was followed by more concerts in Portugal, Senegal, Zaïre etc. Then Jocelyne Béroard, who had long since left the backing vocals for a position at the front of the stage) brought out her first album, “Siwo”, which became the first Golden Disc awarded to a female singer from the Antilles.
1987: “Vini pou”
Kassav’ did not stop there and the tours continued in 1987, with performances in front of ever-renewed audiences in Switzerland, Brazil, Mali or Belgium. They returned for their now annual concerts at the Zenith in Paris, from April 30 to May 9. In November, they brought out “Vini pou” with CBS, the recording multinational This became a Golden Disc two weeks after coming out. All their albums were now in the big league, and they won the Victoire de la Musique award for the best group in Paris, 1988. The Kassav’ machine had everyone in the world on zouk, whether in the United States, Japan, or Europe.
In 1989, Kassav’ won the Francophonie prize in Quebec. In July, it won the privilege of being the first black group to perform in Russia. Their tenth birthday present was the Platinum Disk for “Majestic zouk”. Once again, they played at the Zenith in Paris from December 14 to 24. The decade was finishing on a high note and the next looked like doing the same. Year after year, Kassav continued its tours on every continent, and in 1990 they won the award for the best show from the RFI African referendum.
The CBS contract stipulated that no solo album by members of the group could be brought out for three years, in order to give some cohesion to promotion of the group. Thus, Jocelyne Béroard waited until 1991 to bring out her second album, “Milans”, and so did Jean-Philippe Marthely with “Black Jack”, a collaboration with Ronald Rubinel. In the first change of group structure, Georges Décimus, one of the founder members, left, to be replaced by Frédéric Caracas.
First steps in the Cinema
The group’s musical destiny was slightly sent off course in 1992 by their film debut. Euzhan Palcy, the director of “Rue Case Nègre”, which won the French César for the best first film, and “Une Saison blanche et sèche”, recruited them for various roles in his latest film, “Siméon”. The theme song of the film was “Mwen alé”, sung of course by Kassav’, which included the track on their new album, “Tékit Izi”, full of loopy rhythms and energetic brass and steel band sounds. On this album, the group also introduced a new style, Raggamuffin zouk, a mixture of reggae and zouk, with the song “Lévé Tèt Ou”. Worthy of note was the fact that Kassav decided to put translations of all the songs into French on the record sleeve. The band’s crooner, Patrick Saint-Eloi, also recorded a solo album, “Bizouk”.
Jean-Philippe Marthely signed a new solo album, “Si sé taw”, in 1993, while Jean-Claude Naimro left the group for a year for a period with Peter Gabriel. He was replaced by Thierry Vaton. Kassav continued to tour and obtained the Best Group trophy at the West Indies Awards in New York, and the AfriCar Award in Abidjan.
The group’s activity slowed down despite a few tours here and there (in France and abroad). Some critics began muttering about boredom thresholds, zouk being out of fashion, etc. Yet this did not stop Patrick Saint-Eloi bringing out his new album, “Zoukamine”, and preparing a new album with Kassav.’ On July 1st 1995 “Difé”, the new album, came out, featuring the single “Difé soupapé”, remixed by Bruce Swedien and René Moore (Michael Jackson’s sound engineer and programmer). Also invited were Cuban percussionist Ray Baretto, drummer Manu Katché and even Stevie Wonder on the harmonica! The song “Pa ni pwoblème” was written with assistance from Patrick Chamoiseau, the 1992 Goncourt Prizewinner (a French literary prize). In October, Kassav’ hit the road again for a tour which, of course, led it back to the Zenith, Paris, in March 1996, followed by other dates in metropolitan France, Europe, the Antilles, and even Canada, for the Francofolies at Montreal. In April, “Difé” won a golden disk. October saw a live album, “Kassav’Cho”, and the year ended with the album “Marthéloy”, a combined effort by Marthély and Saint-Eloi.
In May Jocelyne Béroard and Jacob Desvarieux were honoured with the title “Officiers du Mérite” in Senegal by President Abdou Diouf.
The year 1997 saw a new recording by Jean-Claude Naimro, “Digital Dread”. Kassav’ was nominated Best Group at the Afric Awards, Libreville. Solo albums continued to appear, with Jean-Philippe Marthély’s “O peyi” the following year, and “Lovtans” by Patrick Saint-Eloi. Some, indeed, thought that this recording overkill (a total of over 30 albums) was what kept Kassav’ at the head of the ratings, since the public had no time to forget them between two hits.
Kassav’s music proved to be phenomenally popular in Latin America. Indeed, a whole host of groups began adapting – some would even say ‘plagiarising’ – Kassav’s hits in Spanish. Kassav’ grew tired of this phenomenon and decided it was time to hit back. So in October 97 the group flew out to Cuba and set about recording their own album in Spanish. The tracks on Kassav’s new album were recorded in the legendary EGREM studio with the very best Cuban sound engineers and then mixed in Miami in Gloria Estefan’s Crescent Moon studios. Kassav’s new album, “Un toque latino”, was released in November 1998 on Sony.
The album pulsated with a perfect fusion of zouk and salsa rhythms and featured some very interesting re-workings of Kassav’s greatest hits. Two songs on the new album remained in Creole (including the famous “Zouk la sé sel medikaman nou ni”) but other Kassav classics were adapted into Spanish (“Siwo” became “Molo, malisimo” for example). The standard of songwriting on Kassav’s new album was extremely high as the group enlisted the aid of the Spanish-born songwriter Etienne Roda-Gil (famous for writing a whole stack of hits for French artists such as Julien Clerc). Kassav’s zouk/salsa fusion marked a new phase in the evolution of zouk, as the group’s innovative new sound was not just a commercial venture. It also provided an important bridge between West Indian and Latin American culture.
20th Anniversary Celebrations
1999 proved to be a busy year for Kassav. Jean-Claude Naimro branched out on his own at the start of the year, releasing a solo album which was swiftly followed by “Best of 20e anniversaire”, a compilation celebrating Kassav’s 20 years in showbizz. (This compilation featured a selection of the group’s most popular hits as well as three new bonus tracks). On June 12th and 13th Kassav brought the house down at Bercy stadium in Paris, 32,000 fans flocking to see them in concert at the city’s biggest venue.
Following their triumphant performance in Paris, the group then headed back to the Antilles to celebrate their 20th anniversary in Guadeloupe (July 10th) and Martinique (July 17th). After flying out to the States to play two dates in New York and Boston, the group returned to France and embarked upon an extensive tour. Then, in December ’99, it was Jacob Desvarieux’s turn to branch out on his own, releasing a solo album entitled “Euphrazine Blues”.
After all this hectic activity, Kassav could have laid back and rested on their laurels for a while, but by December ’99 the group were already hard at work preparing songs for their next album. Released in June 2000, “Nou la” (short for “Nou la, nou byen la” – We’re here, really here!) featured 15 tracks recorded in Toulouse and mixed in Paris. But it was clear that the songs had been written and lovingly prepared in Martinique, the group’s eternal source of inspiration.
In the autumn of 2000 Kassav’ embarked upon a sun-filled tour of a series of tropical islands, playing concerts in Mayotte, the Seychelles, the Comores, Dominique and Curacao.
With their long and successful career still going strong, Kassav were presented with a “Music Award” in Martinique for their anniversary concert. Meanwhile, Patrick carried off the Sacem award for “Best Artist from Guadeloupe.” Kassav’ continued their hectic tour schedule right through until the start of 2002, then took a well-deserved sabbatical. Later that year, Patrick announced he was leaving the group.
In 2003, different members of the group devoted time to individual projects. Jocelyne released a solo album entitled “Madousinay” and Jacob Desvarieux got involved with “Dis l’heure 2 Zouk,” the hit compilation masterminded by French rap star Passi. By the end of the year, Kassav were back together on the road again, playing dates across the Caribbean, Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland.
In 2004, Kassav made a major comeback on the recording front with the release of their fourteenth (!) studio album, “K’Toz.” The group proved their popularity was stronger than ever when they brought the house down, playing to a 60,000-strong crowd at the 20th anniversary of the “Baïa das Gatas” festival, held on the island of Sao Vicente in Cape Verde.
In February 2005, Kassav’ played three sold-out concerts at Le Zenith, in Paris. One of the band’s gigs was filmed live and highlights were released a few months later on their “Carnaval Tour” DVD. In April 2006, Kassav’ were back in record stores in France and across the French West Indies with a greatest hits album entitled “Le meilleur de Kassav’.” Meanwhile, up until the end of 2006, the five members of the band continued their hectic schedule on the live circuit, appearing at various music festivals where they headlined alongside the likes of reggae star Jimmy Cliff. In September, Jean-Philippe Marthély, one of the group’s singers released a solo album, “Koule Ianmou.”
2007: “All U need is Zouk”
Fans had to wait until the winter of 2007 to enjoy a series of new Kassav’ compositions. With a cheeky nod to the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love”, the zouk supergroup called their new album “All U Need is Zouk”, asserting their firmly-held belief that zouk is no longer a craze, but a music style that is here to stay. The group’s fourteen-track album, recorded in Creole, proved to be a danceable, festive affair, featuring a host of upbeat tracks such as “Zouk Party”, “Bodé Apiyé” and “Pli Bel Flè” as well as more reflective songs rooted in the history of the French West Indies (“Doubout Pikan” and “Fo pa fann”).
Kassav’ celebrated twenty years in the trade in 2009 with an impressive series of concerts. Starting off in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, they moved on to France, where the group filled the Zénith in Paris four times before stoking up an audience of 65,000 at the Stade de France on 16 May with a clutch of guests including Fally Ipupa, Jocelyne Labylle and Tanya Saint-Val.
The anniversary zouk night was immortalised on a CD and DVD (“Live au Stade de France”), accompanied by the release of a triple compilation album (“Saga”) covering Kassav’s career that sold for the price of a CD. Next, Kassav’ went off to celebrate in the provinces, then in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Algeria, the USA and Haiti, ending up Dakar, Senegal in December. The famous “zoukers” appeared to be inexhaustible.
But in 2010, just as they were getting ready to fly off to the USA for five concerts, two of the group’s eighteen members had their visa applications refused. The tour was cancelled.
The members of the group were very upset at the death of their former colleague and longstanding friend Patrick Saint-Eloi, who died in Pointe-à-Pitre on 18 September 2010.
Kassav’ picked up their tour again in July 2011. The band performed in Tours, followed by Montreal, Boston, Haiti and Benin in August.
The singer’s sixteenth album came out in May 2013. With “Sonjé”, the group’s five long-standing musicians paid homage to their late “brother”, Patrick Saint-Eloi. The melancholic tone is spiced up with Kassav’s familiar dance rhythm, and Creole lyrics about West Indian identity.
A new world tour entitled “Mawonaj tour” took them to the Zénith de Paris from 7 to 9 June 2013.