By Christine Jean Pierre
Edith Lefel is by all accounts one of the most revered zouk artists of her generation. Six years after her death, her legacy continues to be felt around the world and, in particular, the Caribbean—the region she was born. What happened last month in French Guiana, in Martinique, in Guadeloupe and in many other places was a clear manifestation to that assertion. And if you haven’t been listening NRJ Antilles in Martinique and Guadeloupe or watching Trace TV or MTV France in Paris for the past couple months, then chances are you haven’t been informed that this year marked the sixth anniversary of the death of legendary zouk chanteuse, Edith Lefel. Last December, there was a huge carnival celebration in French Guiana, celebrating the life of their hometown heroine with guest appearances and performances of Tanya St. Val, Kaysha, Jean Michel Rotin, Tina, Elody Marquant, Thayna, Marvin, Ali Angel and konpa band Carimi.
Edith Lefel nicknamed “La petite fée” won the hearts of zouk and konpa fans all over the world with her first album La Kle, which established Lefel as a formidable songstress, earning her the Sacem award for Best Songwriter of the Year in 1990. The first single La Kle was an instant hit on zouk and konpa stations in Martinique and in Guadeloupe. This also has earned her major status by being the first zouk female singer to perform in Africa with short lived zouk group Gazoline.
Edith Lefel’s second album Meci was proven to be a commercial hit, which earned her another Sacem Music award in 1992 for Best Female Singer and sold over 40,000 thousand copies worldwide. Lefel’s third album Rendezvous was produced by hit zouk producer Ronald Rubinel which featured the number one hit somiferre. The success of the album scored Lefel a major gig at the Olympia Music Hall in France, where she performed all her major hits and the French adaptation of Barbra Streisand song “No matter what happens.”
Furthermore, Edith Lefel’s last album Si seulement was released in 2002 and featured production from zouk heavy weights Jean-Michel Rotin, Patrick Andrey, Jim Rama, Harry Diboula, and Jocelyene Labylle. The album was a live album with a mixture of zouk, konpa, and a touch binigue. The first single Si seulement was instant number one hit with the most top requests on both radio caraibes and NRJ Antilles in Africa and the Francophone islands in the West Indies. Promotion for the album was cut short when Lefel died of a fatal heart attack in her sleep at her home in the Dreux Countryside on the outskirts of Paris.
Edith Lefel is a musical inspiration that will continue to live through her music and in the hearts of zouk and konpa fans all over the world. Edith Lefel will forever be remembered as a woman with an impeccable singing voice, stunning model star looks, and an outstanding stage presence that made her undoubtedly the quintessential queen of zouk-love.