Photos by Manny Ardouin & Francois Adrien
Narration by Frankie Morone.
To put it frankly, I felt honored when I was asked by the staff of Pikliz (which I am part of) to write a short biography about Gary French. The following day, I called his darling wife Marika and asked her a few questions.
My first recollection of Gary's voice was in 1962 or 1963 at the " bicentenaire". I saw him on a float of "Cadence Rempas" singing the "Merengue carnavalesque : Nou porté malathion pou musique parasite". I vividly recall him that Sunday, playing the maracas and occasionally adjusting the height of the microphone. In retrospect, his voice was full of life, beauty and excitement.
Gary was born in Port -au - Prince on August 26,1939. His father was Haitian and his mother Dominican. He was deeply influenced by her as youngster. Gary loved to listen to Latin Ballads. He was nicknamed the "Prince of Boleros".
At the age of 19, Gary French was a vocalist of the "Ensemble Weber Sicot". He brought fame to that band. His successes were :la femme de mes rêves - Haiti pays de rêves just to name a few. While Wéber Sicot was trailing behind Nemours Jean - Baptiste, Gary's presence added this " Je ne sais quoi" in that ensemble. His voice was unmatched and the young Gary seemed to be very confident. Wébert Sicot and the band took a trip to the French Antilles. At the end of the tour, Gary decided not to return to Haiti.
It was not easy for him. However he decided to stay despite all. He was one of the first artists to introduce Haitian music to the Guadeloupeans. In one of his performances, he was awarded the " Medal of the city of Fort de France" by the Mayor. Far from family members and a bit nostalgic, Gary decided to leave Martinique in 1966. His destination: New - York City.
By 1967, he was singing in several bands. Among one of them was "The Pepe Bayard ensemble". When Gary walks into a rehearsal room, the attitude of the other musicians would change. He was a great story teller and a great joker. He always makes people laugh. I am not kidding. Unknown to him at that time, Gary was on his way to making it. I would say, it was not just talent but also hard work. Gary was hip, elegant, honest and always punctual (except once he entered the expressway on the exit ramp and had to drive onto in coming traffic for about 2 miles). A musician once told me, "Gary as a singer is never off keys." He can sing in French - Spanish & English very very well.
In 1968, Gary met Marie Carmel Gousse. He was 28 years old. That evening changed his life forever. Seriously, she turned him upside down and he also flipped. I guess he had met " La femme de mes rêves". They would marry that same year.
In the early 70's, he and 5 pals Carlos Ramirez, Patrick Coby, Michel Corvinton, George Kahara and Reynold Duverglas formed the Tropical Sextet. This band was very popular and performed in several clubs in the Metro area on weekends and weddings etc. etc.
In comparison with Michelangelo who was a great sculptor, Gary through hard work and dedication became an accomplished singer. He is still going strong. He can sing with or without a microphone. No one else can come closer.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the privilege and honor to introduce to you one more time the talented Gary French. Of courses your comments are always welcome. Enjoy.
Chanteur de renommée internationale, Gary refuse de faire ses adieux à la musique. Il continue à chanter. Ecoutez ce dernier CD et vous pourrez constater que c' est un homme chic qui a du talent. Donnez lui un microphone, un échafaud et quelques spectateurs; C' est de tout dont il a besoin pour se surpasser. Il est sans doute un classique de la musique haitienne.