Georges Nilecam, better known as Eugène Mona, was a singer and flutist from Martinique. His all-too-short life on this planet ended when he was just 48 after an apparent altercation with a neighbour, which brought on a stroke. The most random of endings to a life that was full of music and creativity.
Son of musician, he was a leading artist in West Indian music and a songwriter who received great praise for his work from writers such as Patrick Chamoiseau (author of novels, tales, essays, theorist of Creole) and Raphaël Confiant (a writer of French expression and Creole). As a child he won a Creole singing competition at the age of 15 and made several appearances at the cinema (sometimes as an actor, as in Rue Cases-Nègres by Euzhan Palcy ), but also as a composer. His songs contained powerful Creole literary content and his voice, well, his voice contained the mighty capacity to deliver this power with intense feeling and expression!
He was also nicknamed “the standing Negro” or “poto mitan” and described himself as a Creole artist, claiming African and European heritages, but also as an Indian artist – from which he introduced (in particular) Tamil sounds into his explosive rhythms.
He released several albums from the mid-1970’s, right through to the late 1980’s, but today’s rhythmic delight is taken from a Live album called Témoignage, which he recorded in 1989. Originally, however, the song featured on a 1973 record called Special Folklore – Boi Brilé, but was also recorded on this live version. I love its organic and earthy feel, which relies on nothing but his hypnotic flute playing and a steady, trance-inducing drum beat! His voice soars above this rhythmic din with effortless panache, the less-is-more approach drawing out the strength of his vocals. Check it out above.