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ClassicsOnline Home » BAHAMAS Andre Toussaint: Bahamian Ballads
André Toussaint was a native Haitian who made his home in Nassau, Bahamas, for most of his singing career. He was known for his golden voice, sometimes compared in his calypso lounge-style to Harry Belafonte, and thrilled guests everywhere he performed. Toussaint was a regular at the popular Bay Street bistro Blackbeards and the famous La Fin, where one of his live shows was recorded. Several selections from that performance are featured on this collection.
Toussaints heyday was during the 1950s "Jetset" Calypso era of the Bahamas, when he became renowned for his mellow style as well as his upbeat performances. His music was considered particularly eloquent, as its sensitivity represented a soothing counterpoint to the often frenetic Goombay and Junkanoo music of the Bahamas. He sang in French, Haitian, Italian, and Spanish. Toussaint often combined Bahamian folk favorites into medleys, like "Watermelon Spoilin on the Vine," "Bahama Mama," "Little Nassau," and "Here I Go Walkin Down de Road." He worked with the best musicians the islands had to offer, including legendary songwriter George Symonette, temperamental singer/guitarist Eloise Lewis, and fellow Haitian saxophonist and good friend Marcel Pierre.
Although in the 1950s and 60s the Bahamian nightclub scene was dynamic with dance bands and stage shows that included fire eaters and limbo dancers, the more than two dozen clubs suffered from the rising popularity of the Cable Beach and Paradise Island entertainment venues. Beginning in 1967, over an 18-month period, two-thirds of the nightclubs closed, just as tourism in the Bahamas reached the one-million mark.
Toussaint continued to perform at the smaller downtown clubs and restaurants. He also entertained at the Flagler Beach Hotel on Paradise Island. He was at home with the informal elegance of the Buena Vista, one of Nassaus longstanding upscale restaurants. It was during his last tenure at the Buena Vista that he passed away, in 1981.
"He was an excellent guitarist who had the ability to play not only the melody, but the harmony
It was always a pleasure to hear a band playing when he was involved. He worked very hard to hone his art to make it very special."
Sir Clement Maynard
Former Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Tourism (1968-1980)
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BAHAMAS Andre Toussaint: Bahamian Ballads