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You Are Here: Home » Art and culture » Naima’s drop from the zouk label raises new questions about where the zouk industry is heading

By Christine Jean-Pierre

 CSMS Magazine staff writerThere have been some serious questions being raised by zouk watchers about where the industry is heading. The latest to date is the sudden drop of the Comoros Island konpa/zouk singer, Naima (left in the picture). Critics say that many promoters are violating the traditional norm by giving “look” and tan priority over talent.  Also, there is another factor. If an artist cannot perform multitasks, chances are that he or she might not  go very far.  Zouk artists are now expected to show other talents such producing and song writing. According to many, what makes the competition even fiercer is that Haiti, Martinique and Guadeloupe no longer hold the monopoly. Many konpa/zouk artists are coming from other countries, noticeably the Indian Ocean and Sub Saharan Africa, forcing traditional zouk producers to find new ways to compete.“The problem is that zouk is evolving with new system of how business should be run,” declares Jean Lemoine, a zouk lover from New York.            “Zouk music executives now have a standard of what a zouk singer should look like. First, if the singer is white or mulatto with black or brown eyes with blond or brunette hair then most likely the zouk label will heavily promote the singer even if the singer has a poor or weak voice,” observes Marie Alexis, a partygoer from Miami. It is difficult to confirm such assertion, however when sectionzouk promoted Ali Angel first album At Home, the label heavily promoted him by making him do concerts all over the world, giving him guest spots in other albums, and arranging more interviews with more exclusive TV networks such as MTV France and Trace TV.            Zouk Labels such as Sushiraw, GhettoZouk, Sectionzouk are firing artists they feel do not fit these new profiles. Even though their music is sellable, some artists are complaining they are being dumped by getting them off the company’s websites or promotional Myspace pages.Naima, who originally signed with SectionZouk, was dropped in March of 2008. The public knew of her departure when her name was all of a sudden removed from the label’s website. Sectionzouk claimed they had to let her go because of contract negotiation issues. Rumors have been circulating in the Internet, claiming that she actually quitted because she rejected pressure from her record label her to bleach her skin, and also she was not agreeing to learn Portuguese for a song she was scheduled to perform in a duet with Cape Verdean zouk artist, Loony Johnson. That particular song was scheduled to be released in her upcoming album.            The signs of Naima departure from the zouk music scene was truly made apparent late fall when her absence was visibly noticeable during the annual Sectionzouk female US tour. Zouk watchers also claim that she has been sabotaged when her beautiful song Avec ou sans toi from her never-released first album was leaked to bootleggers all over Europe, Martinique and French Guiana.            Critics say that the producers who produced her first album have managed to make profit off her first album in other ways; despite the fact the record label never officially released the Album.  Her only single that the record label ever bothered to promote was the single titled Dans Tes Reves, which was more of a rhythm and blues song than a zouk song. The second single Avec ou sans toi was only a radio single, and despite the lack of sectionzouk promotion, the song has managed to hold the number one spot in RNJ Antilles radio countdown for four weeks straight.             The zouk industry is an industry that heavily depends on superficial qualities such as “look” and how much money they can make out of an artist. Many say that is its biggest flaw. Zouk labels are promoting more artists that have model star quality looks with amateur singing instead of average looking singers with impeccable voices that last a lifetime.Also see Milca: New Haitian diva crowned in Paris while Konpa is breaking new grounds                Dwindling record sales forces Zouk producers to call Konpa to the rescue                Zouk music producers have turned into Kompa to boost record sales

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