There may not be any voting, but Miami musicians know an awful lot about getting kicked off islands. Here in our own little Caribbean outback, this Saturday night the City of Miami Beach will present proclamations to salsa queen Celia Cruz and compas kings Top Vice in honor of Cuban Independence Day and Haitian Flag Day. Don't hold your breath waiting for these supersurvivors to collect their honors when they are handed out at the Miami Beach World Music Mania, however. While mania is guaranteed at the hands of rasin band Boukman Eksperyans, Cuban crooner Luis Bofill, and rastaman Johnny Dread, Cruz and Top Vice will be tied up at holiday celebrations elsewhere in the city.
Cruz will join compatriots Jon Secada and Willy Chirino to celebrate the grand reopening of the Freedom Tower. Who better than Celia to fete the structure's revival? Speaking about her CD Siempre Viveré (I Will Survive) last year, the Queen -- too weary after a long day of promotion to emit a single "azuca!" -- confessed, "I don't think that I'm going to die. I will live forever, because I am in the music."
Not content with a digital afterlife, guitarist Robert Martino contemplates cloning as a way around his band's double booking at Music Mania and the Third Annual Compas Festival at Bayfront Park. "We need two Top Vices," he jokes. The punch line is not so far from reality, as Martino can take credit for not only spawning his sons' immensely popular group T-Vice, also headlining the compas fest, but for sparking Miami's compas scene. "Top Vice is the one that built the city of compas," he boasts over his cell phone. "We did start the nightlife here in Miami, that's for sure. We invented the techno style."
From father to sons, man to man, compas can be a hardscrabble, backbiting business worthy of its own reality- television series. Just ask sisters Sabine, Ives, and Martine Francoeur, who survived years as background singers to come of age last year with their sophomore CD Chale (Heat). "We always big up all the Haitian ladies," says spunky rapper Ives, "because we need more of us out there." The sisters, who perform not only compas but compas-muffin, reggae, hip-hop, and R&B, have had to look outside the Haitian community for role models. "People used to say we were TLC, but now there is no TLC," blushes lead singer Sabine. "Now we want to be the Haitian Destiny's Child."
While Destiny's Child copped a number one hit from the television show Survivor, the greatest survivor of all time will be on hand during the Disco Inferno show on Friday night to give Saima a primer on leaving men behind. Gloria Gaynor, formerly known as the Queen of Disco, joins old pals Viola Wills and The Trammps for a show that will feature not only her timeless anthem "I Will Survive" but also her latest hit, "Just Keep Thinkin' About You," which took the number one spot on the Billboard Dance Music Charts last March. That's right, last March. "I'm not doing Seventies disco music anymore," says Gaynor from her home in Newark, New Jersey, sending a message to fans still trapped in the cocaine haze of Studio 54. Her new sound is strictly electronic, but it's all the same to Gaynor. "People are always going to be dancing," she observes. "They may change the name of it, and the music can evolve with generations, but I can't imagine a day when people are going to sit down." The City of Miami Beach may not have a proclamation ready for the one and only winner of a Grammy for Best Disco Record, but the island natives will surely vote with their dancing feet, to show the woman who invented club music that we never can say goodbye.
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