Coupé Cloué

Jean Gesner Henri was born in Leogane, Haiti on May 10th 1925.

Jean Gesner Henri was known as Coupé Cloué, a nick name he acquired as a result of his prowess on the soccer pitch (”coupe” means “cut”, and “cloue”, “nail”).Inspired by Cuban bolero and son, he began to perform as a guitarist in Port-au Prince in 1951.

In 1957 he formed Trio Crystal which was later renamed Trio Select. They played their own version of “twoubadou” music in the clubs and parties of Port-au-Prince. Twoubadou is a style of music based on the sounds brought back to Haiti by Haitian cane cutters who had worked in Cuba.

Coupé's first band, Trio Select, championed a synthesis of jazz, Haitian mérengue and folk rhythms, and helped to popularize the use of the guitar in Haiti in the 1950s and 60s.Trio Select featured Coupé himself, a second guitarist and a maracas player. A more common name for the maracas in Haiti is “Tcha-Tcha”. The group serenaded at small parties and finally in 1960 they released their first album.

Trio Select evolved a rhythmic formula related to Haitian compas but retaining a Cuban flavor. A major part of Coupé's appeal with the Haitian masses was his use of Creole lyrics and raps, full of current slang, double entendres and jokes. As the band grew in the 1970s they changed the name from Trio Selct to “Ensemble Select de Coupé Cloué”.

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