16th Annual Haitian Compas Festival to Feature Kassav


16th Annual Haitian Compas Festival will take place on May 17, 2014, at the Sun Life Stadium in South Florida. Jacqueline Charles (Miami Herald) explains that, among the great many magnificent performers, the world-renowned French Antillean band Kassav will make a rare appearance to celebrate Haitian culture with thousands of Haitian and Caribbean music fans. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

The year was 1983, and Jacob Desvarieux was on tour with his French-Caribbean party band in Haiti when inspiration hit. Sitting inside a Port-au-Prince hotel, the singer-guitarist took pen to paper and began jotting down the infectious lyrics and bouncing guitar riffs that would become the band’s first international hit. The song, a hip-swinging party anthem similar to the Electric Slide and Macarena pop culture phenomenons, captured legions of gyrating fans, many of whom for years believed the band Kassav was Haitian-born.

“When you get inspired by a song, you can be anywhere. We happened to have been in Haiti,” Desvarieux, a co-founder of Kassav said as he recalled the birth of their up-tempo 1984 dance hit, Zouk-la sé sèl médikamen nou ni (zouk is the only medicine we have) that started the group’s explosion, first in the Caribbean, and then later in Europe and Africa.

Thirty years later, the song’s infectious beats are still seducing Caribbean music lovers to hit the dance floor as its Creole lyrics proclaim the healing power of zouk, the hybrid musical sound Kassav pioneered in the 1980s. “Zouk is the music of our region,” Desvarieux said with a chuckle.

[. . .] The five-member band, which is usually as large as 13 musicians on stage, will join a line-up of mostly Haitian konpa bands that include homegrown Haitian rock stars, Tabou Combo, and newer generation konpa acts like T-Vice, Carimi, Djakout #1 and others as they celebrate Haitian Flag Day and heritage month.

Also among the 13-bands lined up are Barikad Crew, a rap Kreyòl group that counts among its fan base a former Haiti first lady turned presidential candidate; and Grammy-nominated roots band Boukman Eksperyans, which fuses local rhythms with rock and reggae. Each brings their own flavor and fan base, including Kassav, whose fans span not just continents, but generations.

“We decided to invite them to perform because they are closer to our music, and Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Martin are all part of our biggest market,” festival organizer and music promoter Rodney Noel said of Kassav, whose members hail from the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Noel and fellow-festival organizer Jean-Michel Cerenord say Kassav’s inclusion will spice things up at the event, which attracted 16,000 fans last year, and has become one of the biggest showcases for Haitian music outside of the island. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/14/4117308/16th-annual-haitian-compas-festival.html

For more information, see http://www.compasfestival.net/

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