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Monday, September 25, 2023

Remembering Edith Lefel: Two Years Later

By Ardine IsmaLa belle au bras dormant of the Caribbean creolophone, the immortal Zouk diva, Edith Lefel, more than two years after her sudden death, remains one of the most beloved Caribbean artists in both the Zouk and Kompa worlds. Born on November of 1963 in Cayenne, French Guiana, she spent her first three years in her native town before following her parents to Martinique. It was there that Edith began to develop a strong talent for singing by being in a band with her older brother, a rock n’ roll folk guitarist. Their band would perform interpretations of Kompa groups, such as Tabou Combo and Skasha, at local fairs and festivals.At the age of fourteen, Lefel moved to France with her mother and continued to pursue her career by lending a wondrous voice to local radio spots. It was there that she would sing backup for Zouk artists such as Simon Jurad, Jean-Philippe and Patrick Saint Eloi. Then in 1984 she sang in a band called Mafia in the Antilles. It wasn’t until she performed a duet with Ronald Rubinel in his album “Ich Manman” that her vocal talents became noticed in the Zouk music industry.In 1987, she released her first album, simply entitled “Klé.” In that album, she worked with producers such as Malavoi, Philippe Lavil and George Debs. It was this recording that made Edith a certified Zouk diva in the Caribbean and in Africa. In 1992, she received the SACEM award for her second album, “Merci,” which sold over 40,000 copies. It was the biggest record sale for any Afro-Caribbean artist. Then in 1996 she released her third album, called “Go.” She next teamed up once more with Ronald Rubinel to create a new model of advertising for the album by pumping massive album postings in the Parisian subways.On May 11th of 1996, Edith Lefel performed in Olympia, Washington State with the group “Sparrow” and Leona Gabriel. In that evening, she displayed her talents with Zouk artists such as Ralph Talmer, Jean- Luc Algiers and Ronald Rubinel. In 1998, she was invited to sing for Malavoi’s album, in which she sang a duet with Jean-Jacques in the song “To Flower of a Skin.” Two versions of her songs can be heard in that album: “If I Were a Man,” and “The Anthem with Love.”Her last album, “Si Seuelment,” which was released in December of 2002, was arranged by Harry Diboula and produced by Creon music. In this final album, one can hear the presence of a choir with a mixture of meringue D’ “Apartheid” with a big orchestra. Some of the big names of West Indian music collaborated on her album, such as Frederic Carcass, Joceyline Labylle and Jean-Michel Rotin. A series of concerts was planned for the promotion of the album in the beginning of 2003, but unfortunately Edith Lefel died of a bad cardiac problem at her home in Martinique on January 20th of 2003. She was buried in the Father-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.Edith Lefel was a beautiful, multi-talented artist who sang Creole-style with a never before seen passion. She left us when it was least expected, after sitting on top of the music world with an impeccable career which spawned several awards, winning albums and doing all of this with style, grace and fantastic professionalism. She will always be remembered as the woman who sang about female rights in hit songs such as “Somnifère” and “Bèl Powol.”

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