Gordon Henderson

August 25 is observed in Dominica by some radio stations and Creole music enthusiasts as Cadence-Lypso day.

As strange as it may seem, this year I would like to make a special appeal to a very powerful group of Dominicans because of their zeal and efficacy in promoting a different genre of music, who with a little effort can be of enormous assistance to Dominica in our quest in carving our spot within the global Creole music market.

I am referring here to: THE DOMINICAN REGGAE AMBASSADORS.

These four words may shock or even infuriated some, however, in all intellectual honesty, I am referring to persons be it musicians, radio personalities, politicians, PhDs and many more who are “Dominicans” and for very good reason I am sure, have embraced Reggae music as their music of choice or predilection to the point of defending it in their quotes and in many cases making a lifetime commitment to every Jamaican aspect of the music and lifestyle.

Some Dominican Reggae Ambassadors may be unaware of their status and consequently refuse the title, however after honest consideration they do fit the criteria.

I should hastily confess that many years ago in the seventies, I was myself an ardent Reggae Ambassador, since I recorded many songs so long ago that it was called “Reggay” then, before the Jamaicans realized that the name contained the syllable “gay” and changed it to “gae”. With the group Exile One, we also recorded an entire Reggae album on the Barclay label.

I am making these careful clarifications to say that many of us have been at some time of our lives Reggae Ambassadors.

For my part, I consider myself lucky to still enjoy Reggae music to the fullest but I have found my “niche”. I am a Creole music ambassador. Cadence-Lypso being a part of the Global Creole Music family.

I am not in any way trying to convert anyone to become Cadence-Lypso ambassadors instead, though this would be very good for Dominica and Creole music. My objective is to ask every Dominican Reggae ambassador to make just a little effort in getting a better understanding of Cadence-Lypso as step one.

Why do I think that Cadence is misunderstood? By comparison, some say that they cling to Reggae so tenaciously because of the “conscious lyrics” a marketing term often used to describe Reggae songs.

So! I ask, is it because most Dominicans have diluted our Creole into such a parochial sub-lingua that many confuse the more universal Creole with French? Of my over three hundred songs that I have written and published, there are probably two in French, twenty or so in English and the other two hundred plus in Creole.

Or, is it because the up tempo of the many styles made for dancing has eclipsed the more moderate tempos of Cadence? The paradox remains that Reggae dropped its tempo from Ska and Rock Steady

to catch the world’s attention. Meanwhile, some of the Dominican Reggae Ambassadors reduce the very varied Cadence-lypso to this unidimensional aspect of up tempo and only up-tempo… They ignore everything and blindly attempt to redefine the music to suit their own expectations.

Check it for yourselves! Exile One started the up-tempo as well with tunes like “Ah ta ta”, “réfléchi”, “Cadence-lypso” etc but did not specialize in only up-tempo.

On the issue of “conscious lyrics”, I will not quote any Reggae song to avoid being polemical.

I will on the other hand draw to the attention of the Dominican Reggae Ambassadors that Cadence-Lypso music does have a remarkable list of “bankable lyrics” even as strong as, “ dem belly full”…Smile!

There are numerous Cadence-Lypso hits spanning over four decades treating topics of various matters of extreme “consciousness” that seem to be ignored by the Dominican Reggae Ambassadors.

· The song “Travay pou ayen” speaks of the slave trade from the capture in Africa, the middle passage through slavery and emancipation.

· “Hommage à Frantz Fanon” highlights the works of one of the most significant thinkers of recent times to have influenced so many intellects globally. He hailed from the neighboring island of Martinique.

· “Diamant Kréol” a metaphorical exposé of Creole based solidarity and on the question of musicality offers the most advanced sax solo even to this day.

· “Patriote” a popular cognate speaks of the question of patriotism from the standpoint of the early Cadence-Lypso musician. A translated line laments, “how much tolerance, should we grant to ignorance?”

These are but a few examples.

The Dominican Reggae Ambassadors, we need your help in promoting Creole music!