3 Nights of Pulsating Rhythms Indeed! (Copyright ©2006)

Island Where, November 2006

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Dominica’s 10th Annual World Creole Music Festival (WCMF) held on October 27-29th made such an impression on music lovers that many are already looking forward to next year’s show.

The newest musical festival in the Caribbean, the WCMF promotes the region’s vibrant creole culture, while providing a platform for creole music from all corners of the globe.

This year, the ‘three nights of pulsating rhythms’ attracted internationally acclaimed bands and soloists from the creole-speaking world as well as that of other genres that have their roots infused in the creole language. On Friday night, the stage was set for renowned bands such as T-Vice from Haiti, Zouk Flam from Guadeloupe, Royalty Band based in the US, and a local bouyon flavour with WCK.

The main act on the opening night was undoubtedly Shaggy , the ‘Loverman’ from Jamaica. As smooth as silk, this heartthrob singing sensation had the crowd captivated for over two hours, singing along to his greatest hits from his album ‘Mr Lover Lover’ and ‘Best of Shaggy’ compilation.

Moments of nostalgia arose when he whined and glided across the stage with ‘Oh Carolina’, ‘Summer Time’ and ‘Angel’. Sexually charged and full of unlimited energy, Shaggy paid special tribute to ‘the ladies out there’, with his 1991 hit ‘That Girl’ and ‘It Wasn’t Me’.

It’s evident that reggae music runs through his veins, and despite his international stardom, he is Jamaican to the core. As he turned the lights down low, Shaggy made a smooth transition to soulful reggae, paying homage to Bob Marley, performing a succession of tracks from the King of Reggae, including ‘Redemption Song’ and ‘Africa Unite’.

Saturday night was indeed a blast with Djakout Mizik, the quintessential ‘konpa’ band from Haiti, Sakis from Africa, and Dominica’s very own King Dice, Hunter, Impromtu band, and the Swinging Stars.

But lo and behold, the crowd’s favourite by a long shot was Wyclef Jean, originally from the Fugees, now an internationally acclaimed solo artist, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Carlos Santana, Whitney Houston and more recently, the whining queen, Shakira. Never before has one man moved the crowd both on and off stage, in the history of the World Creole Music Festival.

Wyclef Jean opened his show by paying tribute to the Fugees, performing tracks from their 1996 masterpiece ‘The Score’, as if to say, ‘this is how it all started’. Fluent in English, French, Creole and Spanish, this Haitian born musical genius captivated his audience with his talent, stage presence and overall down-to-earth personality. He had his fans rocking to ‘911’, Two Wrongs’ ‘Fugee La’, and invited his sister onstage to do a creole version of ‘Amazing Grace’.

As if being on stage was too much for him, to everyone’s surprise and disbelief, Wyclef Jean leaped off and scrambled over the fences, giving a stellar performance amidst his fans, on the shoulders of his unassuming bodyguard.

Moving from one end of the park to the other, this agile performer clambered onto the top of the 30 ft scaffolding which housed the mixer and spotlight, while his fans looked up in amazement as he delivered a topless, shoeless performance. His versatility is unique, his style, genius. From rap to zouk, RnB to hip-hop, reggae to soul, in more than three languages, after what was a world-class show, this energetic, fan-loving Haitian was just getting warmed up.

With the crowd chanting ‘Wyclef, Wyclef’ and ‘we want more’, Wyclef Jean pleaded with authorities for more time on (or in his case off-) stage.

But as all good things come to an end, it was time to say good-bye to one of the best acts that the festival had seen in a very long time.

It has been agreed that the final night was indeed great, compared to previous Sunday nights since the inception of the World Creole Music Festival. The line-up included one of the region’s freshest entertainers, Admiral T from Guadeloupe, with an unusual blend of creole hip-hop, zouk and ragga, and award-winning Byron Lee and the Dragonaires out of Jamaica. With over 46 years of musical experience, Byron Lee and company stole the souls of the more mature crowd, with a blend of soca, calypso, reggae and rock music. A medley from the Mighty Sparrow including ‘Drunk and Disorderly’ went down well, as did that of Elvis Presely ‘Shake Rattle and Roll and ‘Wake Up Little Suzie’.

Tabou Combo and Carimi from Haiti kept the pace with authentic Zouk, thereby highlighting the significance of promoting creole music to the world at large. The World Creole Music Festival came to a successful end with Carimi leaving an indelible print, paving the way for a bigger event in 2007.

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