From July 21 to 28, at the Rémi Nainsouta Cultural Center in Pointe-à-Pitre, the International Zouk Festival (FIZ) presents a photo exhibition entitled “History of Zouk in pictures, a focus on Gilles Floro”. The pictures belong to Guadeloupean photographer Robert Thimodent, a privileged witness of the early moments of zouk.
This photo exhibition transports us to the 1980s, when zouk was just invented by the Kassav’ band. Then, a large number of artists (singers and musicians) adopted this new music. Each brought his own color, his own sound to improve it, to make it more beautiful. It was the time of TV shows, concerts on large stages with gifts (cars, travels, television sets…) especially during the patron festivities and the Tour cycliste international de la Guadeloupe, shows in the big nightclubs on the island…
In the numerous pictures taken by phototographer Robert Thimodent, we can recognize some of the artists of the “golden age” of zouk : Kassav’ (Jacob Desvarieux, Georges Décimus, Patrick Saint-Éloi, Jean-Philippe Marthély, Jocelyne Béroard, Claude Vamur, Jean-Claude Naimro), Zouk Machine (Jane Forstin, Dominique Zorobabel, Christiane Obydol), Tanya Saint-Val, Joëlle Ursull, Éric Brouta, Luc Léandry, Édith Léfel, Frédéric Caracas, Pascal Vallot, Philippe Dilo, Francky Vincent, Dominique Bernier, Dominique Panol, Jeff Joseph, Henri Debs, Max Sévérin, Jean-Michel Rotin, David and Corine, Tatiana Miath, Sadi Lancrerot, Francelyse Berthély, Kwebee (Médhy Custos, Patrick Ulmann, Jimmy Desvarieux etc.) and even Miguel Colas (former owner of the famous nightclub, Le New Land) and Jean-Pierre Sturm (former TV host).
We can also see Gilles Floro, this young talented singer and musician whose first album, “Rêve Bleu”, was a big hit in 1986. Unfortunately, on June 22, 1999, the day after “La Fête de la Musique”, the artist from the town of Gourbeyre died accidentally at home. The whole island was in a state of shock. Gilles Floro (37-years-old) left eight albums, the last one had a predestined name: “Sans prévenir” (Without warning).
Zouk, our music
Robert Thimodent is a privileged witness of the early moments of zouk in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Paris and abroad. His father had sent him to study economics at the Paris-Tolbiac University, but he preferred photography: “at that time, I met many artists, I was also the official photographer of some of them. I took a lot of pictures of the members of Kassav’. I was frequently in the recording studio with them. I was with them during their very first concerts in Paris, New York, Brooklyn, Réunion (…) I had the opportunity to go on tour in Martinique with Éric Brouta, I remember that the fans ran behind his car, I was the official photographer of “Le New Land” which organized “La Nuit des Stars”, Miguel Colas also did artistic shows in the towns so I could meet the artists easily and photograph them. I took one of Gilles Floro’s photos during the podium of the patron festivities in Terre-de-Haut (…) My photos illustrated Patrick Saint-Éloi’s first album cover, two albums by Georges Décimus, an album by Éric Brouta (…)”, told the photographer.
Thanks to these artists who are the pioneers in zouk music, the public had a historical moment: the birth of a new music, more than thirty years ago.