Legendary Creole music producer Henri Debs passes on

Henri Debs
Henri Debs

His name might not be well known among the wider Dominican public, but he is among those who can be credited for helping introduce Dominica’s indigenous music, Cadence, to a larger audience.

Legendary Creole music producer Henri Debs, of Guadeloupe saw the potential of the genre in the 1970’s and subsequently produced several bands from Dominica including Exile One, Midnight Groovers and Grammacks.

He died on Monday, August 19, at he age of 81.

Of Lebanese origin, Debs’ influence across the Creole music world is beyond doubt. He is described as one of the “supporting beams” of the foundation of creole music across the Caribbean. Known for his outspokenness, his passion led him to the discovery of many talents.

Debs began his career in the 1950’s and has produced an almost immeasurable number of records.

He held various jobs: showman, restaurant owner and manager of a clothing store. He later installed a small studio at the back of his store in Guadeloupe. There, Debs Production started. He soon opened a second record store in Fort-de-France, Martinique, and then another in Paris.

He first began working with the group Experience 7 and went on to produce artistes whose names became familiar during the golden age of Zouk in the 1980’s including Fred Fanfant, Edouard Benoit, Alain Gervais, Tanya Saint-Val, Tatiana Miath, Frederic Caracas, Luc Léandry, Eric Brouta, Francky Vincent, Zouk Machine, Chiktay, Jean-Jacques Gaston and many more.

His musical influences run the gamut from Beguine to Cadence, Cuban Bolero, Cha Cha, Mambo, Brazilian Samba, and of course Zouk.

Debs has won many awards for his work including the the International Arch Prize of Europe (2010) in the category for “the quality and excellence of his work.”

Debs was not only a legend as a producer but also behind the microphone. Listen to one of his tracks below.

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27 Comments

  1. roy
    May 21, 2014

    Verry sadly to hear this news now, henwas a great zouk artist, producer, i have some records from him.
    My condoleances to his family, and his son Ryco.
    Ryco, if you get my message would you contact me.

    Greetings

  2. bougla
    August 21, 2013

    Henri was a legend and enough words cannot describe what he did for dominican music. May his soul rest in peace.

  3. Rastafari
    August 21, 2013

    RIP Debs. you made a tremendous contribution in producing D/ca’s Creole musik kulture. I know you can’t read this forum, but many THANKS!

  4. Mc Carthy MARIE
    August 21, 2013

    OPHELIA never recorded for Henri Debs, but we were often at his record shops or his Studio in Pointe-A-Pitre with his wife Rosemarie. He had a great sense of humour but he was also a shrewd businessman who for example turned down more than one opportunity to produce KASSAV (I know it seems strange to say that turning down opportunities to produce Kasav was a good business move!)

    In the early nineties DEBS put the Caribbean on the world recording technology map when he bought the 10th unit of the famous Solid State Logic-SSl mixing board.

    Creole Music will certainly miss him.OPHELIA and I extend our condolences tom his wife and son who lost a great husband and a great father

  5. Justice and Truth
    August 20, 2013

    He certainly was a legend in his time who left a legacy and many fond memories behind along with his music. His smile tells a lot about him.

    Here is one who kept extremely active in his life and no doubt made many friends during that process with his music. There is no doubt he helped many achieve their musical goal.

    Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen!

  6. Just saying
    August 20, 2013

    he also sang with Max Severin they were know as Max et Henri

  7. Just saying
    August 20, 2013

    Repose en paix Henry Debs.

  8. Tyre hit de road
    August 20, 2013

    R I P Debs you were at the core of unraveling and developing Dominica’s Art form Cadencelypso
    God Bless your Family !

  9. Wakas
    August 20, 2013

    I did my first studio recording with Henri Debs and Liquid Ice/Earth in the late 70s, and I was so taken aback by the sound quality and engineering skills that he possessed at that time. Even today the songs which came from Debs remains incomparable and immortal. RIP Henri.

  10. sdist
    August 20, 2013

    YA MAN RESPEK TO MR.wast it 4 him i would not know most of the french artiste bck in the day.ONE thing you wil not realy rest in peace. cause we stil playing your musik.

  11. Asterix
    August 20, 2013

    The late 80’s and early 90’s were great days with the likes of Chiktay, Eric Brouta, Tanya Saint Val, Franky Vincent and Zouk Machine. His work therefore was phenomenal producing for all thes great artiste including his work with our cadence and prior to those days

  12. Poison
    August 20, 2013

    He never wanted to record songs that had the word “Babylon”….and pushed more of the slackness lyrics…his “help” came with a hefty price tag. :(

  13. Britbob
    August 20, 2013

    That label Henri Debs was on practically every sound that formed the soundtrack of my youth ..Repose en paix Henri your service to Dominican culture in immesurable

  14. Groovers
    August 20, 2013

    Rest in peace Henri.Thanks to u soucway sac anita bon disc and the others (with pierre Larbon) u produced made midnight groovers the legendary band it is today.On behalf of the band condolences to family and friends.

  15. Cyrique
    August 20, 2013

    We will remember him in prayers for what he did to help our Nation’s artists in promoting our music. RIP Henri. God bless you and God bless DOMINICA

  16. saysomthinggood
    August 20, 2013

    He supported the creole culture…he supported people with talent …real talent and he was professional about it
    ..

  17. Herbie J
    August 20, 2013

    R.I.P to Mr Debbs. Great influence on the origins of Cadence music recordings in the early days during the 70’s & 80’s when I was growing up in Goodwill listening to Milestone, Groovers, Black Machine, Black Affairs, Black Roots, Exile One, Grammacks, Bill-Omen………You always saw that Majical name behind every album cover Jacket……..HENRI DEBBS !!

    As a musician myself, I have been influenced very much by that era in my music development. Great memories !! Thanks for your outstanding work, Dr. Debbs !!!

    • 4progress
      August 20, 2013

      I wonder why these bands/groups that you have mention was not mentioned in the story above which is more poignant and relevant to us dominicans

      • MIA
        August 20, 2013

        I guess not all of them went on to produce records.
        And then again too, the bands/groups list might be too long to mention all of them.

      • Ibrahim
        August 21, 2013

        Mia, just to inform you, every band that was named by Herbie J did release an album and some released more than one.

    • D/can to de Bone(F
      August 20, 2013

      I share that comment with you Herbie J. We both grow up togther man listen to it.Those were the days. haapy to know you ok…Dallas boy(Solomon lane) Mikey…….

      • Herbie J
        August 20, 2013

        hey Mikey,

        Good to hear from you bro. Hope all is great bro. We need to stay in touch.

    • One Eye Man
      August 20, 2013

      respect to DEBS but why isn’t the name of MAMMOTH in the list of Dominican bands he produced. MAMMOTH, Mama Mange Raisin Fame of Salisbury

  18. almond joy
    August 20, 2013

    I am a lover of zouk. May ur soul rest in peace my brother.

  19. warma
    August 20, 2013

    Repose en paix Henri – you are indeed a legend

  20. Africo
    August 20, 2013

    Sorry to read this news, although we all have to pass on at some stage. Few people here are aware of the major influence he had on the production and promotion of Creole music of all types, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s. Thanks for reminding us.

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