The Unsung Hero: Kenny Desmangles Back to Basics “No More Pain.”

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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!

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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

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Neefah Song
Biography

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.

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Written by Cheyna Pierre

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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…’

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Yvon Andre

Yvon Andre

Percussions/Vocal

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.

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Tabou Combo

BIOGRAPHY

“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!

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Dat7

Biography

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.

Je-veux-M’envoler

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