Beautiful Dominica: Dominican Music + Culture at the World Creole Music Festival

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November 9, 2012

Words by Jesse Serwer
Photos by Martei Korley

Ophelia Marie at the World Creole Music Festival

The 16th edition of the World Creole Music Festival last month brought acts from Jamaica (Damian Marley, Tarrus Riley) Haiti (T-Vice, Kreyola), Barbados (Krosfyah), Guadeloupe (Luc Leandry, Zouk Machine) and other islands to Dominica’s national stadium, known as Windsor Park. But amidst the sounds of zouk, kompa, reggae and soca, though, the emphasis was squarely on Dominica and its homegrown music styles, kadans (or cadence-lypso) and bouyon.

In addition to closing sets from Triple Kay (Friday night), WCK (Saturday night) and Midnight Groovers (Sunday night), the festival featured performances from bouyon’s rising star Asa Bantan and a showcase of Dominica’s female singers including kadans queen Ophelia Joseph (that’s her above) and the multi-talented Michele Henderson. Dancers from the Kalinago territory, the Caribbean’s last vestige of native culture, performed traditional folkloric dance, while a jump-up session on Sunday night gave crowds a taste of the island’s carnival, Mas Dominik. (Watch a video of the madness here).

The 16th edition of the festival was dedicated to the memory of the country’s most iconic musician, Jeff Joseph. Known locally as “Jeff Joe,” Joseph died just weeks after making his last-ever appearance during the 2011 edition of the WCMF. A museum area gathered album covers, photographs and other artifacts from his career, while every artist who performed called out his name. As the festival neared its close in the early hours of Monday morning, Jeff Joe’s old band Grammacks reunited for a comprehensive set of their greatest tunes together.

Click through for photos highlighting Dominica’s music and culture at the WCMF, and stay tuned to LargeUp for more images from the festival.