Cadence-lypso pioneer describes Cadence Month as ‘bitter-sweet’

Gordon Henderson

As Dominica celebrates the inaugural cadence-lypso month from July 02- 30 2021, cadence legend, Gordon Henderson, has labelled the occasion as bitter-sweet, saying that while significant gains have been made with the genre, much more can be done for its promotion and preservation.

Pioneered by Henderson and his Exile One Band in the early 1970s, the music quickly gained fame both regionally and internationally, dominating the airwaves, dancehall and concert scenes for several decades.

The creation of the music reflected not only the artistic talent of that generation of musicians but also the mood and inspiration of a nation and a region that was going through turbulent political and economic challenges and moving towards independence and greater self-determination.

Referred to by Henderson as “a synthesis of Caribbean music” for its dynamic rhythmic sound and the fusion of calypso, Haitian Rampa music with Afro-American funk around 1973/74 in the French island of Guadeloupe, Cadence-lypso became one of the region’s last musical creations of the 20th century.

“After 50 years since the creation of this genre, it is sweet that some of the women and men who sacrificed so much in the ’70s did get some form of compensation and recognition,” Henderson stated. “Sweet, because in recent times, of the excellent job done by people such as Leroy Wadix Charles or institutions such as the NCCU.”

Referring to the art form as a part of our Dominica national musical patrimony, he said it was momentous that many of the musicians who contributed to the genre are still active and in demand by audiences around the world.

“Sweet because in retrospect, we now know that cadence-lypso played an important role in building Dominican pride and identity on the eve of political independence from Britain and cultural determinants from several countries,” Henderson stated. “Sweet, because cadence-lypso gave credibility to the creole language, not only in Dominica but in many other countries. sweet, because at least one of the exponents was once appointed as an official Ambassador.”

But despite the gains made within the five decades, the Cadence pioneer lamented that this genre which should be embraced by Dominicans is better known and often better appreciated outside of the island.

“I view the month as bitter because despite reaching the highest level within the global music industry and blazing the trail in changing Caribbean music from one of insularity to one of synthesis and fusion, those who can and who could never [have] felt the desire to ensure that cadence-lypso would be recognized by UNESCO as an intangible Heritage of Humanity,” he pointed out, further stressing that such would be a badge of honour for all Dominicans.

Henderson is also saddened that many of our “best historians” have not chronicled the cadence-lypso phenomenal in their books, academia has never seen it fit to include the creole music studies in their curriculum, whether in the primary secondary or tertiary level and also because of the number of times where our music are openly plagiarized in foreign countries, with nothing being done to correct those wrong.

“Export of our music should be given as much attention as other commodities or services that we export,” he recommended. “Cadence-lypso brought in an entire era of creativity and originality.”

He is hoping that his comments will not be seen as a personal attack but as identifying areas that can be improved for the betterment and the pride of the country.

By the end of the month, Henderson is also hoping that some form of discussion can be held on why many have considered cadence frozen in the ’70s, and if it can be sustained; the productions, marketing and distribution as well as whether it can be integrated into the changing music industry in Dominica.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Creole Heartbeat and mastermind behind the first-ever ‘Cadence Month’ Leroy Wadix Charles has also echoed similar sentiments and called on Dominicans to embrace the genre.

Cadence-lypso Month activities continues Friday evening (23rd July 2021) with the third panel discussion at The UWI Open campus from 8:00 pm. Presenters will be Dennis Joseph, McCarthy Marie,  Julian Rogers and Brian Meade.

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  1. Geothermal or Bust
    July 24, 2021

    The blame for early demise of this music can be placed squarely on Patrick John, and miss no-vision Euginia who never saw this breakthrough as a money maker and a means of employment for our young men. Careful who you elect to represent you and your country. All this happened while Jamaica saw Reggae as just that, and their ministry of culture fully supported their music and even exported it as Reggae Sound Splash touring the world at that very same time, and the French islands investing heavily in theirs. It is bitter sweet because here we are 40yrs later with a PM who is willing to pick up the mantle. Albeit when the players are all gray with much less energy. We need more homegrown resources, Buy Domlec Back!

  2. Too long
    July 23, 2021

    Some people don’t know when to wrap things up. Mista should put those old usual songs behind him and get involved in some sort of community service to help the young people. Don’t just stay in de old. Things are changing rapidly and we should get more constructive in helping our communities and society on a whole. Too much bacanal for too long, man. Make a change, nuh!

  3. Ibrahim Brohim
    July 22, 2021

    Editor…the 3rd Panel discussion is on Friday 23, July and not Thursday 22 July

    ADMIN: Thank you for the correction.

  4. If we knew better
    July 22, 2021

    Failing genre that is not properly presented. the Cadence-lypsos alll sound like the calypso we hear at carnival time. No difference.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7
    • Truth Be Told
      July 23, 2021

      I do not believe that you know what you are talking about. Honestly, I think you are mistaking calypso with Cadence-lypso or let’s just say Cadence. As a matter of fact, the dynamic variety of Cadence music produced by the plethora of Dominica Cadence bands throughout the 70s and 80s and to this date still happening in the Francophone and French speaking nations around the world, certainly does not sound like each other, far less to, as you put it, “all sound like the calypso we hear at carnival time. No difference.” What are you talking about? I am totally confused by your statement and comparison. You are so wrong that I do not understand how you could even think that, unless you may be music death! Does Ophelia sound like anything you hear during carnival? Does Chubby? Does Geoff Joseph? Does Gaylords?

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