If konpa music of the good old days can be described as the true school of great musicians, Johny Frantz Toussaint aka TiFrè is one of so many who has been to that school as a graduate, a composer and a hit maker in charge.
Mr. Toussaint has begun his career in the 70s as a replacement in the midst of the regrouped Shleu-Shleu when the era of the mini-jazz was about to annihilate the big band format which later on resurfaces. The most common mini-jazz formation comprises of a sax alto, two guitars with six chords each, a bass with four, a simple drum set, two congas, the percussion with two singers.
Johnny F. Toussaint was one of the first who made his journey as a guitarist to the regrouped Shleu-Shleu of Dada Djakaman after the departure of the original ShleuShleu of the late Tony Moise among others. The success of the reformed shleu-Shleu in Haiti was inevitable considering their core musicians at the time notably Serge Rosenthal, George Loubert Chancy, Jean Elie Telfort, Jean-Michel St. Victor etc.
After a good run in Haiti, Johnny Frantz Toussaint along with his beloved and late cousin Mario Mayala traveled to the United Stated where they were reunited with the other members of that reformed ShleuShleu which became the iconic Skahshah #1.
Here what makes the man a complete musician and then some.
Mr. Toussaint completed his studies in Haiti to the highest level. Thereafter, he concentrated in music by attending and receiving a bachelor in Theory and Composition at York college (CUNY) in 1989. While at it, he pursued and obtained an A.A.S. at BMCC (CUNY) in Respiratory Therapy in 1992. He worked full time as a respiratory therapist for 22 years at the Coney Island Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York and retired early this year.
TiFrè isn’t just a natural born musician. Although isn’t easy for other musicians to attend school and become skilled like Mr. Toussaint, however, a sacrifice to be the best at what one wants to achieve in life, it’s the ultimate gold to become a patriarch in that discipline or anything else.
Ti Fre as most of us come to know him has helped to keep skahshah at the helm of the so-called HMI for a decade on top after their emergence in 1974 with “Guepe pan’yol”. He wrote many hit songs as described below:
* Vinn Danse (Guepe Pan’yol album,
* Rencontre ( Pipiritre album)
* Racine Core ( Doing it album)
* Manman ( Message album) Arrangement by Dernst Emile.
* Machoman (Forever album)
* O’Zanana, Twoul la (This is it album)
* Dial #1( Moun Damou album)
* Padone’m, Port-Au-Prince (lage Djazz la album)
In 1984, he has also produced a beautiful album with songs like:”Noel,” “Aida” and if one pays attention to the guitar work on that album then one will know what I am talking about. Mr. Johnny Frantz Toussaint is the most approachable and polite musician also a great individual one will ever meet.
TiFre is now living with his lovely wife in long island and is still working on a self-releasing album where he will pay tribute to Haiti’s earthquake 5th anniversary with songs like “Ak la fwa”, Sa wap fe sung by Gazman Pierre (Disip) etc.
I have witnessed for many years some great guitar players in our music industry. However, Johny F. Toussaint and the late Mario Mayala to this date remain the most prolific, the most harmonic and rhythmic duo in konpa music.
I can’t let another day go by without paying respect to one of our premiere guitarists and songwriters in our Konpa music. Thank you, Mr. Johnny Frantz Toussaint, for being so knowledgeable and a disciplined musician of our time. I am truly flattered to be a witness of your body of work from the 1970s to present.
Written by Jason Accime/Shah