Zouk Music Adaptable and Cross-Pollinating Genre

Zouk music originally sprouted from Martinique and Guadeloupe, islands in the Caribbean. Characterized by an energetic beat, it emerged in the 80s through the success of Kassav', a French Antillean band.


Zouk, derived from cadence music, found popularity with fans of Exile One and Grammacks. Sung in Créole, Zouk distinguishes itself as recording music. Music artists often dominate the form, subsuming the players.

Translated, Zouk means festival, well-named because it uses carnival rhythms and contains West African influences. Innovative Zouk band, Exile One, incorporated U.S. Rock and Soul genrés, propelling Zouk mania throughout Martinique and Guadeloupe.

But Kassav' is the group that brought it to world-wide prominence. Kassav' added the sounds of Reggae, Salsa, and Compás to their compositions, attaining status as the "most popular, pioneering, and enduring band", according to one music industry executive. Zouk concerts over time adopted U.S., Australian, and European Heavy Metal influences, catching on like wildfire around the globe, particularly in emerging nations.

A derivation of Zouk is Zouk Love, defined by slow, languid, and sensuous rhythmic patterns. A main exponent of this sub-genré is Ophelia Marie. Other Zouk Love artists come from the French West Indies, the Netherlands, and Africa.

Several dance styles have been created to move to Zouk Love rhythms, among them Caribbean traditional dance moves, Brazilian Zouk, Lambada, Cape Verdean, and Angolan dance patterns.

Proponents of traditional Zouk include Edith Lefel, Gilles Floro, and Jocelyne Labylle. The main new generation Zouk artist is Alan Cavé.

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Read more: zouk, Kompa, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Kassav, Zouk-Love, Alan Cave, Music

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