By Natasha Ofosu
Dominica | Sunday 19 June 2016: 11:11 BST
After a gap of almost a decade, one of Dominica’s foremost music groups, First Serenade Band, has released a new album. The 11 track collection, entitled Serenade and Friends, is the group’s fourteenth studio album. It comes nine years after their last album, Body Work, in 2007, and was unveiled during Mas Domnik 2016 - the island’s pre-Lenten carnival celebration. The new album showcases the band’s versatility and their desire to appeal to a diverse audience; it contains four genres of music, calypso, cadence, bouyon and country. Also included on the work are interpretations of three American hits, Nah Break Us, based on Matthew Wilder’s Break My Stride from 1983, Jim Reeves’ country ballad He’ll Have to Go, and Halo by Beyonce. Serenade thanked their fans and sponsors for being “the driving force” behind their producing the album, and expressed the hope that it “brings musical contentment to its listening audience.” Formed in 1984 in the village of Pointe Michel, on Dominica’s south-west coast, Serenade quickly established themselves as one of the top bands on the island. They were capable of performing a variety of musical styles, including zouk, calypso and the island’s new music bouyon (an electronic sound developed in the late 1980s, which fused traditional Dominican beats such as jing ping, cadence and quadrille with soca and calypso). They were prolific in their recordings, producing albums annually from 1994 to 2002 and bi- or tri- annually before and after that period. Some of their more popular tunes included Bef La Laje, De Wiper, One Dance, Donkey Tricks, and Calypso Old Mas Medley. The band’s demise came in 2007 when, according to some members, “Internal pressure and external forces wanting to push their own agenda” forced them to split up. Then, in 2013, band manager Carlton Winston and trombonist Christopher Dangleben indicated that the band were planning a comeback with a mix of new and original members, after fans kept requesting to hear them play live. A revamped ten-member Serenade was launched in May 2014.