The Influence of Migration on Culture: The case of Dominica – Creole, Jazz and People on the Move

Dominica’s Creole culture is a fusion of African, European and even indigenous influences, has been around for centuries in Dominica, and it continues to be an important part of the island’s culture.

The influence of Jazz and Creole can be seen in many aspects of Dominica’s culture, including its music, dance, food, and art. For example, the annual Jazz ‘n Creole Festival is a major event in Dominica, and it features a variety of jazz and creole musicians from Dominica and around the world. The festival also features traditional creole food and fashion.

Creole cultural activist, songwriter, singer, performer and “culture media” service provider Gregory Rabess is one of the artists whose work has been influenced by both of these elements, which are themselves the results of migration movements through the centuries.  Rabess shares his perspective:

Rabess, known also to some as “Woshe La” – a name which derives from one of his songs, explains the impact of jazz on his own music and creative process:

Dominica’s culture has definitely been and continues to be influenced by historical migration flows.   This Creole culture has helped to make Dominica a unique and vibrant island.

As we celebrate the annual “Jazz season” in Dominica, the International Organization for Migration (IOM-UN Migration) reminds us that migrants help cities to thrive and become more vibrant, successful centres of economy and life – which aligns with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #17.

If the basic foundation is laid, where migrants have access to pathways for regular migration, and the basic necessities to fulfill their rights and their responsibilities, migrants will be empowered to contribute positively to developing themselves, and their home & host economies.

Listen to music from Gregory Rabess here:

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  1. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    April 29, 2023

    “Creole culture is a fusion of African, European and even indigenous influences, has been around for centuries in Dominica, and it continues to be an important.”

    Is that altogether true: I don’t think so, whereas you added European, you have exaggerated your comments; hence, you demolishes your intent.

    So learn this:
    “Jazz was the most influential musical movement of the 20th century. What’s its story? The Count Basie Orchestra. Explainer: the history of jazz Published: December 10, 2015” try and read that.
    With that said Note: Europeans even to this day are into classical music, christian Monks developed the first form European musical notation in order to standardize liturgy throughout the church. Polyphonic “multi-voiced” music developed from monophonic chant throughout the late middle ages and into the Renaissance, including the more complex voicing of motets.


    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      May 1, 2023


      For your information sir!
      “Jazz became popular in Europe largely due to the efforts of African American soldiers who stayed behind on the continent after two world wars and created the first European and international audiences for jazz.”

      Jazz was born out of and evolved through the African American experience in the U.S. Jazz evolved from slave songs and spirituals (religious African American folk songs).
      Jazz’s originators and most important innovators were primarily African American!

      Now if you spoke about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 1756 – 1791 as the most influential, popular, and prolific composer of classical music, and associate it with the entire content of Europe that could be acceptable; nevertheless, Dominica Creole music, and Jazz does not have any association with Mozart form of music, or European classical music period!

      Jazz, Calypso, Rock-N-Roll, Reggae, Creole music were invented by Africans forced into slavery, and descendants of slavery!

  2. Roger Burnett
    April 28, 2023

    Gregory, I agree that migrants, and especially migrant creative artists, help cities – in our case, small islands – to thrive and become more vibrant.

    However, to my mind the Jazz and Creole Festival, throughout all the years of its existence, has done little to promote an appreciation and understanding of the music that those of African and Creole descent have bestowed on the world.

  3. Observant
    April 28, 2023

    Woshe_la you should be ashamed of yourself self. You’re a cultural icon and as such you should behave accordingly. Sir,please leave the married 19 year old from crayfishriver alone. Stop parading your your nasty behavior around the place.

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