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.