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“Candjo”

“Candjo”

Auguste de Pradines, known as “Candjo” was a famous Haitian chansonnier who left his mark on Port-au-Princienne society from the end of the nineteenth century to the third or quarter of the recent twentieth century.

By Roland Leonard
May 11, 2022

Auguste de Pradines, known as “Candjo” was a famous Haitian chansonnier who left his mark on Port-au-Princienne society from the end of the nineteenth century to the third or quarter of the recent twentieth century.

Candjo was born in France in 1879 and died in 1946. As a child, the writer Jacques Stephen Alexis seems to have attended one of his performances. The origins and childhood of this great artist and songwriter are shrouded in a halo of mystery; There is also talk of a castle where he was found at the age of 9, near his father’s body, lying dead, near the fireplace. What is certain is that following an attack of polio (??! some speak of leprosy) on the advice of French doctors, his parents chose to raise him in Haiti, where the climate was very favorable to his recovery.

In the end, he was left crippled in his lower limbs, but on the other hand, in compensation, he developed certain musical gifts: voice, piano, guitar and mandolin. His favourite and pampered daughter, Emerante de Pradine, a singer who followed in his footsteps, classifies her voice in the category of tenors. He sang very well, it seems, self-taught, training alone all day long.

Candjo was therefore a chansonnier in the dictionary sense of the term: “A person who composes or improvises satirical songs and monologues, sketches and who performs on a stage… »

A sort of Manno Charlemagne before the letter, followed by Anilus Cadet, Théophile ”zo” Salnave, and others in the future, Candjo viciously mocked the politicians and dignitaries of certain institutions, such as diplomats and soldiers on mission, flogging them particularly during the occupation of 1915. Wisely and sadly reflecting on the event, he said:

“Pouki sa, paske nou gen defo

E kote k gen vyann toujou gen zo

Fos movèz fwa rann nou egare

Nou boule twop sa nou adore

Se konsekans lan n ap peye… »

In 1904, after the choice of the “Dessalinienne” as the national anthem for the centenary of independence, Candjo was the first to sing it accompanied by Julien Courtois on the piano. The precocious composer, at the age of 14, after attending a voodoo ceremony, composed “Erzulie Nennen – o” as superb as anything. A satirical author, he ironically sketched6+ President Louis Borno, running for a third term, in his song “Dame Loulouse. He9 did it again when the elected official was plotting to hand over power in a coup d’état to his relative Déjan. He was a singer, very committed, with some of the hassles of power, dodged by fleeing or thanks to certain protections in high places.

But he also composed lovely sentimental, idyllic or bawdy songs, such as “Dodo Turgeau, *”yoyo,”’ ”sa ki fè dous konsa,” ”What knocks at my door?” Se la Raj” ”pedale” ”Mete fren”.

A performer of popular and traditional songs, he has twisted their meaning for satirical purposes; such as ‘Angelique-o’ or ‘Tifi ki pa konn lave pase,” aimed at Angelique Coles, wife of a great soldier, an occupier.

We regret not having known him and not having recordings of his voice and his works.

Sources: ”Tambours Frappés, Haitians camped

(Ed. R. Sainvill)

‘Despradine from father to daughter’ –

Interview with Emerante Despradine (Le Nouvelliste _Roland Léonard and Nélio Joseph)

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