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21469: JSpadaro: New CD - Manno Charlemagne at Tap Tap (Florida Event) (fwd)
New CD From Crowing Rooster Arts
MANNO AT TAP TAP
Manno Charlemagne and the Tap Tap Band
Sunday 25 April 2004
CD Signing and Performance
7 pm - 10 pm
TAP TAP HAITIAN RESTAURANT
819 Fifth Street
Miami Beach, Florida
Tel: (305) 672-2898
The following text by Patrick Elie appears inside the CD booklet.
"I remember precisely when and where I heard that first Manno record. In
Montreal in the late 70s, we were a bunch of young Haitians, many of us students
attending the local universities.
We were also trying to organize for the liberation of our country from the
grip of Duvalier's tyranny and US imperialism supporting it. We were convinced
then that the repression in Haiti was too brutal for such liberation to happen
from within, it would have to come from the Diaspora. As part of our
activities, some of us and our comrades from New York, Paris or Boston, had composed
protest songs, which were performed at various meetings aimed at raising
support for our cause.
And suddenly, there was that Manno LP, right from the belly of the beast! At
the time, Manno was part of a duet with his friend Marco and they were
singing these incredibly poetic and powerful songs! Of course they were, as we say
in Haiti, "speaking daki," using innuendoes, but we got the messages loud and
clear, and the most important one was that liberation was already happening
from within. Manno was a pioneer in that movement. He was also the first to
marry traditional Haitian rhythms with such complex lyrics in Creole. It was in
stark contrast with the prevalent "compas direct" bands, playing a very
simple rhythm, with lyrics so meaningless you could cry.
As I was returning to Haiti, I hoped to hear Manno live and to meet him.
Unfortunately, Baby Doc and his goons eventually understood Manno's songs and
forced him into exile. Manno continued to write and compose, he also went solo;
from the relative safety of exile, his lyrics also got bolder, more explicit.
Everytime I traveled abroad, I would smuggle back his new songs, and listen
to them and learn them with a few carefully chosen co-conspirators.
I did not realize how many other Haitians were also secretly enjoying Manno's
art, until his triumphant return in 1986, after the fall of Jean-Claude
Duvalier. All his concerts were true events and he could barely start a song
without the whole crowd singing along, missing not a beat or a single word. In
those tumultuous times, Manno became very busy, directly involved in politics as
well as in music. He teamed up with younger talented musicians, such as
Beethova Obas, in "Koral Kombit Kalfou." His production was uneven: great songs to
listen to and learn, but also street songs to demonstrate by. We did not
hold these street songs against him; we were fond of the man, and also too busy
protesting and dodging bullets.
On February 7, 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically and
popularly elected President of Haiti was inaugurated. It was a period of
extraordinary hope and enthusiasm during which Manno was very active on both the
political and musical scenes. We started meeting regularly, sharing our analysis
of the situation and our common fear that the Army would intervene against the
democratic government. Unfortunately, the military proved us right and on
September 30th 1991 staged the bloodiest coup of Haiti's history.
Once again, we were forced into exile where Manno immediately engaged in the
fight for the return of the constitutional President of Haiti. Three terrible
years later, this goal was achieved, and both Aristide and Manno returned
triumphantly to Port-au-Prince. The singer had decided to intensify his
political involvement and run for office in the upcoming elections. Because of his
enormous popularity, he was easily elected mayor of the capital, where his
tenure was short and controversial. The experience was a hard one for the singer
who lapsed into a silence that has been a source of worry and sadness for his
So Alleluia, Manno is back doing what he does best, for he is first and
foremost a musician and a singer. And as all true artists, he is exploring new
territories. The warm baritone voice is as beautiful as always, and the
traditional rhythms are typical Manno. But now there is a saxophone, a female voice
offering a nice counterpoint to his scat singing, and strong jazz overtones.
Very good stuff indeed, and worth waiting for!
Welcome back Manno!