The centenary of Moune de Rivel’s birth will be grandiose

(From left to right) Henri Bistoquet, Georges Brédent, Winny Kaona, Coréta Mouéza, Eddy Compper, Fred Liban / Photo: Évelyne Chaville

On January 7, 2018, Cécile Jean-Louis Baghio’o known as Moune de Rivel would have been 100 years old. It was unthinkable not to take this opportunity to remind Guadeloupe and the rest of the world of the outstanding career of this artist who is a true monument of our traditional music. So, the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Moune de Rivel’s birth was decided. The presentation of the project took place on October 26 at the Centre Culturel Rémi Nainsouta in Pointe-à-Pitre. 

Unfortunately, almost all of the Guadelupean press did not come to this press conference.

Centenaire Moune de Rivel 2

Many know the talent in music and singing of Moune de Rivel who wrote more than three hundred songs, but she was also an actress, a producer of radio programmes and a painter. Truly a guardian and an ambassadress of Creole musical culture in France, Finland, Switzerland, Norway, the United States and on the African continent, Moune de Rivel had also founded a small conservatory in 1995 to transmit her knowledge to children.

Her very rich work and artistic career had been honoured with several distinctions : Knight of the National Order of Merit in France (1966), Officer of the National Order of Merit (1994), Knight of the French Order of Arts and Literature (1997) etc.

“I’m happy, I thought I was not going to be able to make this (…) I’m not alone (…)”, these words spoken by Winny Kaona (singer and actress) at the October 26 press conference, reflect her relief for having achieved the launch of this great project. In 1994, on the stage of the Centre des Arts de Pointe-à-Pitre, Moune de Rivel had made Winny Kaona his heiress and asked her to preserve her work after her death. Twenty-three years after she recieved this torch, Winny Kaona said she is proud of all the work she has done to defend this musical heritage, but today, she would like all Guadeloupe to take care of this heritage. “I did a lot. Today, I want everyone to pay tribute to the memory of Moune de Rivel. You have children, you have to ensure the transmission of knowledge for Moune but also for all those who did something good for the country before we are there (…)”, she said.

Centenaire Moune de Rivel 3
Winny Kaona and Moune de Rivel

Young people in search of recognized leaders

The Association for the Development of Traditional Music (ADMT) and a working group composed of people from different backgrounds have already proposed several events planned from the end of this year 2017 and throughout the year 2018. But this program is not exhaustive and other people are invited to make known their contribution in order to honor the memory of Moune de Rivel as widely as possible. Schools, associations, public authorities, companies, personalities and artists have already been contacted by the organizers. It should be noted that this project has the full support of the family of the famous artist, especially that of her grandson, Pascal Jean-Louis and her niece, Éliane David.

For her part, Winny Kaona is working on several actions including : a book of close to 250 pages, illustrated with many photos – “Moune de Rivel : La biguine au Coeur” – that she wants to present at the Paris Book Fair next March and then in Guadeloupe ; dramatized readings on Jean-Louis Baghio’o’s life (Moune de Rivel’s father), in collaboration with college students ; a cultural program on Canal 10 television channel, entitled “Mounabiguine”.

Several people attended the presentation of the programme for the centennial of Moune de Rivel’s birth at the Centre Culturel Rémi Nainsouta in Pointe-à-Pitre.

Coréta Mouéza (opera singer and teacher of musical education) thanked Winny Kaona for the energy with which she made this project a reality. “I’m working on two biguines with a group of well-selected pupils who will represent the spirit of Moune de Rivel”, she said.

Eddy Compper (producer, show organizer and current Director of the Centre Culturel Sonis in the city of Abymes) underlined the search of recognized leaders by young people. “It’s very easy to gain an outside culture. Guadeloupe needs recognized leaders. We need warriors, people to inform our children about these role models. Moune was a pioneer, we need this road”, he said.

Centenaire Moune de Rivel 4

Moune de Rivel, a musical pioneer

Henri Bistoquet (writer, President of the Association Cuba Coopération Guadeloupe – ACCG) is responsible for ensuring that the streets, squares, schools, buildings, performance halls or other places are named after Moune de Rivel. “This is a work of patience and I have time to do it (…) But, the social landlords have to plan the cultural 1% to entertain”, he affirmed.

Georges Brédent (lawyer and President of the Culture Committee at the Regional Council of Guadeloupe) made a long speech to defend this project : “We must build a collective memory, it is fundamental. Leading figures like Moune de Rivel must be highlighted. Then, we can make a “Memory Calendar” to celebrate each person not as a ritual because after the event we would not remember anything (…) Moune de Rivel is a pioneer in the area of music, she conveyed a very positive image at a time when it was not easy ; in addition, she was a woman (…) We must recognize her courage for promoting Guadeloupean music in Paris. Guadeloupe did not give her the tribute that she deserved, we placed her in the category of folklore”.

Fred Liban (Commercial Director of Grands Moulins des Antilles) has also appreciated Winny Kaona’s commitment to make this event a success. GMA is the only company on the island to have agreed – for the moment – to financially support the organization of the centennial anniversary of Moune de Rivel’s birth. “GMAs are a citizen company. We are present in every home in Guadeloupe with our products. It is a pity that other local companies do not play their part. Moune de Rivel is a great personality in Guadeloupe, a role model “, he said.

Centenaire Moune de Rivel 5

Biguine, a very much alive music

Moïse Benjamin called “Benzo” (teacher, storyteller, researcher in art and tradition, Creole teacher, actor, writer and musician) was also present at this meeting with the press. “Biguine is not a dying music as many believe. In the “Chanté Nwèl”, people do not know that in reality they sing and dance biguine. On the Kasika’s CD that will be released in November, there are seven biguines”, he said. Benzo and the group Biguine Siwo are preparing a medley of four Moune de Rivel’s songs which will be on the CD intitled “Moune a Tout Moun”.

Catherine Parize (singer) was the last personality to speak. She is one of the artists who have agreed to perform songs by Moune de Rivel on the CD “Moune a Tout Moun”. “It’s wonderful that Winny chose me. Twenty years ago, I had performed Moune de Rivel, Stellio, Manuella Pioche’s songs (…)”, she said.

Unfortunately, except your cultural magazine on the internet, and the only local newspaper (arrived late), no Guadeloupean media has participated in this news conference on the presentation of Moune de Rivel’s centennial celebrations. However, Moune de Rivel, called “The Great Lady of Creole Song” can be easily compared with another great lady of singing called the “First Lady of Song”, namely the American Ella Fitzgerald…

Centenaire Moune de Rivel 6

         Some actions of the centenary of Moune de Rivel

  • Edition of a book : “Moune de Rivel : La Biguine au Coeur” by Winny Kaona
  • Travelling exhibition : “Moune de Rivel : Une vie en Chansons” (Opening on April 6, 2018 at the Pavillon de la Ville in Pointe-à-Pitre)
  • Production of a CD : “Moune a Tout Moun” – a selection of 10 songs performed by contemporary artists (Erauss ; Leedyah Barlagne ; Xénia Caraïbes ; Coréta Mouëza ; Choir of 6 children ; Catherine Parize ; Benzo & Biguine Siwo ; Maskaklé ; Winny Kaona)
  • Theatrical readings : “Vie de Henri Jean-Louis Baghio’o” (Moune de Rivel’s father)
  • A selection of Moune de Rivel’s poems : “Îles et Rivages” by high school students
  • Quator of guitarists : “Mouneguita”
  • Culture TV show on Canal 10 : “Mounabiguine” hosted by Winny Kaona
  • Biguine contest : “Trophées Moune de Rivel”, 1st edition hosted by Eddy Gustave
  • “Moune de Rivel show” with various artists and associations
  • Choreographic creation with the group “Akadémiduka”
  • Creation of frescoes
  • Conferences on Moune de Rivel’s work


Moune de Rivel : an unforgettable Creole star