Artist Profiles: René Lacaille

René Lacaille

René Lacaille is the musical embodiment of the unique Creole culture of the Indian Ocean island of Reunion Island (La Reunion), incorporating African, Indian, Malagasy and European rhythms and instruments.

Like other Reunion Island Creoles, Rene is descended from white colonists, African or Malagasy slaves and possibly hired hands and the Chinese. Reunion Island became a melting pot of African, Indian, Malagasy and European influences. The music of René Lacaille harnesses many of the styles present on the island, including sega, which mixes African and European rhythms with instruments from Europe, and maloya that represents the island’s African heritage and mixes the chants of slaves, which sung of labor, toil, sorrow and revolt.

Playing alongside his father at funfairs, weddings and balls from the age of 7 onwards, René Lacaille learned to play sega, maloya, tango, bolero, cha-cha-cha, samba, pasodoble, calypso, waltzes, mazurka, quadrille and more.

During his twenties, René listened to a lot of music. In the 1970s, René formed the group Camaleon, which also included Bernard Brancard, Herve Imare, Loy Erlich, Joel Gonthier and Alain Peters, who wrote the song La Rose Si Feuilles Songes. Written in the 1980s, René’s composition La Mandoz has been continuously revived and has become a part of the island’s repertoire. The title refers to someone who can?t walk straight due to drinking too much ?mandoz? (rum).

Over the years he has played with many talented musicians, including Yuri Buenaventura, Ray Lema, Manu Dibango, Bob Brozman and Raul Barboza. With a wealth of musical elements and styles at his fingertips, René Lacaille has produced an album that stretches across his own musical journey as well as the island?s musical history.

On the album Mapou (2004), this remarkable singer, accordion player, guitarist and extraordinary songster tells the story of his troubadour life, which highlights the evolution of the music of La Reunion and features (among others) the fascinating styles of sega and maloya. Mapou is named after a type of sweet and perfumed sugarcane.


Aster (1996)
Patanpo (D’aqui, 1999)
Digdig (Riverboat, 2002)
Mapou (Riverboat, 2004)
Cordéon Kaméléon (2009)
Poksina (D’aqui, 2011)
Fanfaroné (2014)
Gatir (2015)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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