Home: Michele's 6th Album
Dominica can boast of four 'Ladies of Song' in its history; two are of the folk era of the Sixties in Cissy Caudeiron and Jean Lawrence- Mathurine. Then Ophelia Marie launched her career in the Seventies in the midst of the Cadence boom with "Aie Dominique". Today we boast of Michele Henderson- Delsol who signalled the intent of her music career by winning the DOMFESTA Song Contest in the early Nineties with 'My Pride'.
Michele can be described as the contemporary who sought to build on what Lady of Song Ophelia began and who reaped some level of success in the Cadence genre. In fact Michele's 6th album epitomises just that as she fuses a number of styles and rhythms into what she describes as 'world beats'.
Home/Chez Moi features 13 tracks but this time English titles and expressions are much more dominant than in her previous releases. I asked her whether it was a marketing strategy since many believe that Cadance would have gone further were it not for the language barrier. However, she seems oblivious to this, stating that it was not really her intention but rather she composed in the language in which she was inspired.
Home promises to be Michele's best and really exposes her great talent as a song writer; she uses metaphors and symbolism to paint vivid pictures and to convey lasting sentiments. Though the release consists of 13 tracks the artist and her husband, Junior Delsol (bassist and producer) have decided on a new approach to market the album. With this approach, every quarter four tracks along with an accompanying video will be released. It is therefore expected that by November 2014, the entire CD will be available to all and sundry in time for the WCMF. This incremental approach of releasing the album is perfect in the Dominican context since all other music take second place to Calypso at this time. Hence, the project is expected to pick up steam sometime during and after Lent. Meanwhile, Michele has dipped her pen into the Calypso arena as writer producer for Beno who is into the semis.
During the launching last month, someone asked her if her approach is a response to piracy and she responded by saying, quite rightly, that CD's today are becoming a thing of the past and do not really account for significant revenue for artist. This is why she has signed a distribution deal with "Believe Digital", a major online wireless and digital music store which accounts for some 10% of market share in Europe. It is through such distribution in the US, France, Germany and Italy that Michele hopes to benefit; the company generates tens of millions in royalties annually through use of ITunes, CD Baby etc.
Sometime in the early part of last year I lamented the fact that Jamaican artistes work with each other and do much collaboration and we don't see such levels of collaboration in Dominica. Well, Michele has, this time around, invested in local and internationally renowned talents in her arrangements and compositions such as WCK's Earlson Matthew, Tipple Kay's Kendel Laurant, the gifted but unassuming Leon St Jean, fastest rising keyboardist on island- Brent Samuel and Donovan Gabriel who have for years been associated with Michele Henderson Inc. Featured also are their keyboard counterparts Phillippe Joseph and Ronald Tulle of Kassav fame, and Jacques Camera and guitarist Jerry Moulon, Ordel Hamilton, with Alain Dracius on percussions, accompanied by bassist, Junior Delsol, to create this masterpiece.
Financial assistance for the project came from the OECS Export Development Unit (EDU). The recording was produced at Audio Solutions Inc. in Dominica and mixed and mastered in Martinique at Heureka Studio.
The title track 'Home' is soothingly reflective as it pays homage to the Nature Island. The imagery and language is as rich as the vegetation portrayed therein and the wonderful jazzy interpretations on keys coupled with Michele expressive vocal quality, all indicate that the title track is destined to go places. 'Mr Right' and 'Lonely' brings out a rather romantic and nostalgic side of the artiste before she spices things up with Mr Bengie-N2O on "Yo ka parle".
Indeed 2014 is expected to generate not only a lot of talk for Michele but success, if this release reaches the right ears and is entrusted to the right hands.