Editor’s Note: This Spotify playlist was was curated by Nathalie ‘Talie’ Cerin, a Haitian singer-songwriter, teaching artist, podcast host & blogger currently living in Philadelphia. She is the Editor of @woymagazine. Follow her on Instagram.
Konpa music turning 66 years old! To celebrate, enjoy this 35 song + playlist of Konpa including music from Coupe’ Cloue’, Tabou Combo, L’Orchestre Septentional, Bossa Combo (whose album, Racines, is pictured above) Nemours-Jean Baptiste, and others.
Writing in an essay and conversation with Haitian musician and producer Fabrice Rouzier, Cerin notes:
“66 years ago, while on a visit to Haiti’s famous sacred waterfall Sodo, Haitian saxophonist Nemours Jean-Baptiste sat under a gazebo. He turned to his friend and fellow saxophonist, Webert Sicot, and said, “let’s start a band.” They went on to form Conjunto International with the addition of accordion, bass, and vocals. They played their first show on July 26th, 1955 in Port-au-Prince. July 26th has since gone down in history as the birthday of Konpa, Haiti’s most popular genre, the rhythm most internationally recognized as Haiti’s mark on music.
Nemours Jean Baptiste called his new band’s style of music, Konpa Dirèk, Direct Konpa. In the last interview he ever granted on the Television Nationale d’Haiti before he died, Jean-Baptiste explained why he called it “direct”. All of the ensemble’s songs had a chord progression of two chords, no third chord would be added or accidentals. A simple 5-1 progression with the same basic walking bass pattern holding the foundation. Direct.”
Below, listen to the “Happy Birthday, Konpa!” Spotify playlist.
You can read Nathalie’s essay and conversation here.