Sat | Apr 4, 2020

A Franco-Jamaican night - David Cairol, guests host reggae concert at French Embassy

Published:Tuesday | February 25, 2020 | 12:11 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
A group of Campion College students doing a piece in both English and French.
David Cairol in concert at the Embassy of France recently.
David Cairol in concert at the Embassy of France on Friday
Rick Jam backed by a mix of French and Jamaican musicians.
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Graciously hosted by Denys Wibaux, the ambassador of France in Jamaica, French reggae ­artiste David Cairol headlined a groovy, invitation-only concert on the lawns of the embassy at 13 Hillcrest Avenue. In light of the celebration of Bob Marley’s 75th birthday this year, and February’s distinction as Reggae Month, the concert was a ‘modest’ contribution to the month-long celebrations and spotlight events.

With red, green and white chairs neatly splayed across the lawns, most early arrivers opted to hang around the vibrant open bar. It was soon evident that despite the neat array of seats, most would be left standing at the concert’s start; and it was known sooner still that seats didn’t matter. The audience spent a majority of the evening rocking and swaying to the music.

Franco-Jamaican Connection

When Wibaux opened the­ concert stage, he took the opportunity to highlight and impress on the audience the popularity of reggae music across the world, the Franco-Jamaican connection, and urged continued support for the linkage. He needed go no further than the National Gallery’s latest scintillating exhibition.

“Reggae is extremely popular in France, as you may know – to the point that there is Sebastian Carayol, who created an exhibition about the contribution of Jamaica to world music. This exhibition was first displayed in Paris (à la Philharmonie de Paris) in 2017. This exhibition has also been a great success in São Paulo, Brazil, and it is now on in Jamaica in the National Gallery,” the ambassador shared.

He continued: “For those of you who have not yet had the opportunity to visit the exhibition, I certainly would encourage you to visit. It is extremely interesting.”

Cairol and Guests

Also interesting is the concert headliner, who is strengthening the Franco-Jamaican connection with music. Cairol came to Jamaica two years ago and approached Alliance Francaise with the idea to translate workshops he coordinates with children in France to Jamaica. First, he returned to conduct writing workshops with schools like St Georges College, Kingston College and Campion College.

“Then, I decided to build a project to collaborate with young Jamaicans. So we did a song last year, and we also did a music video with French children singing in English, and Jamaicans singing in French. It was the first step,” the singer said. The second was organising a project between a group of children in Jamaican and another in France to produce music.

As gracious as his host, Cairol showed his first guests to the concert stage, the result of his second project. A group of Campion students took the stage singing in both English and French, a song they recorded with another college in France. The song was recorded at Tuff Gong Studio during last week. In addition to the students, Cairol also invited young Jamaican act Rick Jam to share the stage. “I’m so happy to be here tonight. I grew up with reggae music. It was an inspiration for me in my life, through the lyrics, the sound, the vibration,” the headliner said.

Backed by a mix of French and Jamaican musicians, Cairol kept the energy high with renditions of his original music, like Last Bus and his latest single, Hope Road.

kimberley.small@gleanerjm.com