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Delgres Combines Guadeloupean Heritage With New Orleans Creole And Blues

Delgres performs live in Paris for World Cafe: Sense of Place
Kimberly Junod
/
WXPN
Delgres performs live in Paris for World Cafe: Sense of Place

Pascal Danaë was born just outside of Paris and the first time he went to the French overseas region Guadeloupe, he was given the "Letter of Freedom" that belonged to his ancestor, Louise Danaë. She was freed from slavery in 1841 at 27 years old. At the time, she had four children, one of whom was Pascal's grand grandfather.

The history of slavery and French colonialism plays a big role in the music Danaë makes now with his three-piece blues band Delgres. He named the act after Louis Delgrès, the freedom fighter who resisted the reintroduction of slavery in Guadeloupe by Napoleon in 1802 and died for the cause.

We met up with Delgres at La Boule Noire in Paris to hear live performances of songs from the band's latest album, Mo Jodi, and to talk about some of the features that make the band so unique. Danaë sang in Creole and his bandmate, Rafgee, played the parts that would normally be handled by a bass guitar on the sousaphone, an instrument typically found in New Orleans brass bands. Danaë also shed light on the historic and musical connection between Africa, the French West Indies and Louisiana, as well as the healing power of the blues.

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Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.