Haiti – Cuba : 25th anniversary of the Haitian vocal group «Desandann»

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A report from Haiti Libre.

The vocal group “Desandann”, composed of ten singers from the Camagüey professional choir, descendants of Haitians living in Cuba for several generations, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a series of activities in the capital of the central province of Cuba.

During the concert given at Camagüey’s Principal Theater, the vocal group Desandann showed a range of his repertoire, which includes traditional songs, Haitian folk songs and compositions of the Group. The show was completed, for the Haitian side, by the performances of Caidije, the oldest of the Haitian-Cuban groups, founded in 1926 by Fanm Zetwal, the only exclusively women group of its kind, composed of fifteen women from the neighboring province of Ciego de Avila, and the frontyè group of the singer Marcelo Andrés Luis (member of Desandann). Cuban music was represented thanks to the Imagen quartet and the Voces duo of Teresita Romero Miranda and Marina Collazo (both members of Desandann). The Camagüey ballet dancers also participated in this tribute to the vocal group Desandann on the occasion of his 25th birthday.

Remember that the goal of members of the vocal group Desandann at the time of its founding, in 1994 was to pay tribute to their ancestors by making known the Haitian culture. 25 years later, the mission is largely accomplished, not only in Cuba, but also in the whole world, where the group has made about thirty tours across forty-four countries, including Haiti, of course. The vocal group Desandann has also recorded several records, including two albums – under the name Creole Choir of Cuba – with Peter Gabriel’s famous Real World English label. He was nominated for the Grammy Awards in 2004, for Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnett’s “Cuban Odyssey” CD, with which he regularly collaborates.

This success is due in part to the originality of the group, which occupies a singular place among Haitian-Cuban folk groups because it is made up of professional singers who have benefited from a classical training. Under the direction of Emilia Díaz Chávez, their approach to the Haitian musical heritage is thus characterized by a certain classic style: excellence of the voices, refinement of the arrangements and rigor of the staging including choreographed movements.

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