Flamengo: “When you want to earn a living with your music in New Caledonia, you really have to move your ass” #MaParole

Flamengo celebrates its thirty years of career this year and is preparing a great concert in the center of Tjibaou on November 19th with many guests. The singer, apostle of reggae in New Caledonia and Polynesia, returns to #MaParole on his epic story.

Reggae in Polynesia and New Caledonia has its icon. Flamengo has been broadcasting this music they love so much for 30 years, writing titles, organizing festivals and producing artists in Polynesia or New Caledonia. He has formed many relationships and friendships in reggae which make him the key figure of this music in the Pacific.

1 City Pierre Lenquette

Fabrice Virayie said Flamengo grew up in Nouméa, on Pierre Lenquette’s estate in the 1980s. At the time, “it really is the ghetto“with sometimes very violent episodes. In the 1980s the tension was very high between Kanak and Caldoches. Flamengo recalls that most of the separatists lived in his city. Eloi Machoro, Tjibaou’s brothers and many others. He remembers that during the his childhood, a meeting of Jean-Marie Tjibaou had been organized right under his house.

Flamengo may have gone wrong, it becomes “a thugas he says, because he didn’t like going to school or playing football. But two strong personalities changed his life: Sister Caro and his mother! Sister Caro, Kanak Catholic grandmother, nun, extraordinary personality, encouraged young people to play sports. You prevented the Flamengo from making a mistake. And then, since he didn’t like school, his mother decided to send him to boarding school in Bourail in a Catholic institution. It was there that he discovered singing. A blessing.

In Pierre Lenquette’s estate, Fabrice Virayie sings in a group called Flamengo. Flamengo was the nickname of the city of Pierre Lenquette due to his football team which bore the name of the legendary Brazilian team from Rio de Janeiro. “During the World Cup, in the city, everyone was for Brazil “, recalls the singer. By dint of making music, Flamengo begins to believe in himself and wants to professionalize. He definitely adopts the neighborhood nickname of him. Thanks to his older brother, he discovered Bob Marley. But his love of reggae comes from an Alpha Bondy tape, Jerusalem. His passion only grew as the meetings progressed.

In the 1990s, there were tensions between rival gangs in New Caledonia. In 1996 Flamengo was kidnapped and beaten for several hours. Then he told himself it was time to go see Paris. Especially since before leaving the pebble, he sympathized with the musicians of Tonton David, the singer who had performed in Noumea.

2 Vibrations in Paris

Paris bisness, Paris galley, Paris misery, Paris I love you“, with his words, the Flamengo tells his Paris. The singer does not consider himself a great poet. He likes to tell about daily life, to give his impressions. Upon arrival, Paris is tough, even if the Flamengo does not suffer No loneliness. The musicians of Tonton David host him first. And then in the Place du Trocadéro, he runs a caravan where he sells pancakes and waffles. There he recruits many friends from New Caledonia and creates a kind of stone embassy in the heart of Paris.

With Tonton David and later with Pierpoljak, Flamengo plays everywhere in France and Europe. And then, he took the time to compose his first album in Paris entitled Live in Paris. The album is doing well, 30,000 copies sold, which for a New Caledonian singer is a real feat. And then the desire to return to the countryside reaches him. Upon his return, he began organizing big reggae festivals. Reggae sunplash in New Caledonia in 2001 then in 2002 and reggae sunplash in Tahiti in 2003 and 2004.

In Tahiti, the Flamengo was only supposed to stay a week, spent three years there and made strong friendships. In particular, he met Laurent Lagache, the singer who celebrated Flamengo’s 30 years of career with him on stage both in Paris at the Elysée de Montmartre on 9 September 2022 and at the Tjibaou center in Nouméa on 19 November.

3 Kanaky-Kingston

Having organized many festivals, produced many artists, Flamengo thinks it is time to make one of his old dreams come true. He records an album in Jamaica, the reggae mecca. Having met Rita Marley, the last wife of the famous singer, the Flamengo managed to make his dream come true. With the brass of Burning spear and the choirs of Bob Marley he signs a new album Kanaky-Kingston recorded at the reggae source.

Flamengo loves happy reggae. Sure, he likes to provoke, but the singer isn’t the bitter or depressed type. Always with a project in mind, he never stops and brings with him a whole well-motivated staff. For his thirty-year career he has imagined a group exhibition that brings together the older brother Yé of the city Pierre Lenquette of the Toka Era group, Pierpoljak, Daddy Mory, Laurent Lagache, his Polynesian friend and many others.

A documentary about the singer is in preparation. Flamengo hope to spend some time in Europe soon. “There are many festivals here, I can shoot anywhere, I want it today because my best years are ahead of me“, He concludes in #MaParole.


© Cécile Baquey

►27 August 1973

Born in Noumea


First hit of reggae in Nouméa


Registration of Kanaky-Kingston in Jamaica

June 5, 2000

Album release Vibrations in Paris

►19 November 2022

Flamengo celebrates 30 years of career at the Tjibaou Center in Nouméa

All previous issues of #MaParole can be downloaded from the following podcast platforms: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, Podcast Addict, Sybel, Amazon Music and RadioPlayer France.

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