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More about Beethova   >>


When he first appeared on the Haitian musical scene at the beginning of the nineties, Beethova Obas was immediately considered as one of the most talented and inspired singer-songwriters of his generation. With his painful lyrics and sensuous melodies, Beethova Obas has forged an incisive blues which appeals to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Beethova Obas was born in 1964, under the dictatorial regime of François Duvalier. The youngest of five children, he was the son the painter Charles Obas. In October 1969, after having demonstrated in front of the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, Charles disappeared, never to be seen again. A passionate music lover, he left numerous instruments amongst the canvases in his studio, and it was in his father's now deserted workplace that Beethova first picked up the accordion and the guitar and taught himself to play.

Interested in all Haitian musical genres, but also in jazz, Beethova Obas first made his name as a songwriter. Although he listened to compas, a sort of slow, typically Haitian meringue, he was also close to "rasins" (roots), the anti-government trend founded by Manno Charlemagne. In 1987, he teamed up with singer Emeline Michel, for whom he wrote, "Plezi mize", a song which had a certain success. Following this, his younger brother Emmanuel won the "Konkou Mizik" contest with "Lage L".

It was in dramatic circumstances that Beethova Obas gravitated from being solely a songwriter to singing his own songs. In December 87, as Manno Charlemagne was leaving home to go and record "Nwel Anmé", a Christmas song some critical of the regime in power. A band of armed men shot him on his doorstep, wounding him badly. So Beethova recorded the song in his place. It was a huge hit. The following year, he was elected Best Young Singer by the jury of the Découverte RFI contest, whose president, Manu Dibango, was very impressed by this new voice on the Haitian music scene.

In 1990, now a well known artist in Haiti, Beethova released a cassette of his very first recordings, "Le Chant de liberté". In July 91, during Martiniquan group, Malavoi's tour of Haiti, Beethova became friends with Paulo Rosine. The latter was very impressed by the young Haitian's talents and invited him to participate in the recording of their next album, "Matebis", after which Beethova went on a triumphant Caribbean and French tour with the group. His collaboration with Malavoi put him on the international World Music scene and also enabled him to meet the people who were to help him produce his first album.

After his return to the relative calm of Haiti, came the putsch and the return to power of the military. Beethova Obas left to live in York York and Porto Rico for a while. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a priest, was reinstated as president in 1994 and, on the same occasion, Manno Charlemagne came mayor of Port-au-Prince. Beethova returned home with an album ready for release and the same year brought out "Si", his second album but his first CD. It was enthousiastically received. Whereas in Haiti the young thirty year-old's talents has been known long before "Si", in Europe, and particularly in France, the album was a revelation. Critics and public alike were captivated by the beauty of his voice, the finesse of his compositions and the beauty of the melodies. A blend of blues, creole jazz and dance music with Brazilian undertones, the album delicately mixes a whole heap of influences and definitively establishes Beethova's unique talent. Mario Canonge, a leading member of Malavoi, played piano on the album. 

A truly international career began. He performed at the most important Francophone festivals including Bourges and La Rochelle in France, but also in Paris clubs such as the Chapelle des Lombards (April 94) and the Hot Brass (April 13th 95) as well as the Cafe de la Danse in November 96.

He followed up this first CD with a second, "Pa Prese", released in May 97. Entirely in creole except for two tracks in French, "Si"'s content is highly emotional. The session musicians included prestigious names such as Mario Canonge, again accompanying him, and the crème de la crème of the Parisian Afro-Caribbean scene, including bassist Thierry Fanfan (Martinique) and Etienne M'Bappé (Cameroon).

He played at a small venue, the Sentier des Halles, from February 3rd to 14th 98 then, after a Caribbean tour in June, performed at the Pirineos Festival Sur in Spain and the Nuits d'Afrique festival in Montreal in July. 

July 98  More about Beethova   >>