In a career more than 50 years long, I also played the saxophone and composed music. Like most Haitian musicians, I had an eclectic style, ranging from big band sounds to Cuban music of the 50's.
My genre reached even those who left Haiti too young to have known my music firsthand and those who were born in the United States to Haitian parents. MY cross-generational appeal was evident when I received a standing ovation after performing at Lincoln Center in June 1998 during a fund-raiser for the Haitian-American Alliance, a community group based in Brooklyn. Reviewers said I outshone younger and more popular Haitian musicians like the singer Emeline Michel and the guitarist Beethova Oba. .
Born in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, I started performing at age 14. In 1947 I began playing the clarinet with the school band at St. Louis de Gonzague School in Port-au-Prince. A few years later, I began to play professionally when I caught the attention of Issa El Saieh, the maestro of the most famous orchestra in Haiti.
In the 1960's I settled in Paris and was a regular performer at the jazz club Mars, playing the saxophone, and was at the center of a growing intellectual and artistic Haitian community in Paris. After Paris, I lived in Asia, then spent 15 years in Canada before settling in the United States a decade ago.
I wrote scores of songs and many, like ''Her Name Is Michaelle'' and ''My Brunette,'' became hits. However, my image suffered from my close alliance with Haitian dictators Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, who ruled from 1957 to 1986, when the younger Duvalier fled to exile in France.
In 1971 I gave a special tribute at the elder Duvalier's funeral. ''We thank thee Francois Duvalier for having given so much to us,'' I sang. ''You are great and beautiful and just. Up there in the skies you will watch over our Fatherland.''
Singing at the funeral was a matter of chance. A few days after I was invited to Haiti along with other celebrities like Pele and Muhammad Ali, Mr. Duvalier died and I was asked to sing at the funeral. Officials imposed the text of the song upon me.
Today I have no regrets,I have one wish: That my musical legacy continue to rehabilitate Haitian music in the world. I would like to leave something valuable.''
I am Guy Durosier...