The Kennedy Center

François Ladrezeau


Singer and autodidact drummer, François Ladrezo has always been surrounded by music.  In the 1970’s, Guadeloupe and most of all Pointe-à-Pitre used to live with the sound of KA (traditional percussion from Guadeloupe). Raised by Gwoka Music, Ladrezo was passionate about this musical expression. The main Gwoka Master, Vélo, became his model. Ladrezo used to observe him for hours to assimilate his methods and was practicing his Ka on a daily basis.

Strongly embracing Guadeloupean tradition and its symbolism, Ladrezo is open to other musical expressions. Besides his activities since the 1980's with Akiyo, a cultural and social organization for traditional legacy, and one of Guadeloupe's largest Carnival percussion group (with drums and conch shell), he was also involved with Akiyo Ka (playing for Lewoz, the traditional gathering of drumming, dance and chants of rural communities) and Akiyo Mizik (scenic Orchestra). He collaborates with Archie Shepp, and Guy Conquette.  He also worked with David Murray. He recently initiated and participated in the “Urban Ka” project, combining guitar, Ka and a DJ.

Despite all those projects, he keeps working in the community, teaching drumming, and managing his group Alka Oméka built in 2003. This concept “Ka-Voice-Dance” involves normally 11 members. They participated to the Slavery Abolition Commemoration at the Zénith of Paris in 2005. After launching their album in 2008, they were invited to the first edition of Destination Guadeloupe - New-York Festival.

François Ladrezo lives his music intensely and intrinsically. He considers it as an arm to denounce Guadeloupe's society injustices. Considering himself as a deportee, because of African people forced exodus, he approaches his art as identity and spiritual therapy.  He identifies himself as RasKa (Ka Soldier), and affirms every day, at each performance, his unconditional commitment to Music and its cultural message.
François Ladrezeau