Jocelyne Béroard (Kassav’): “There was no leader, but Jacob Desvarieux was our pillar”

She is one of the voices of one of the rare French groups that has toured the world. A few months after the death of Jacob Devarieux, another figure of Kassav ‘, the 68-year-old singer delivers her memories, without remorse or regrets.

Nothing predestined her to sing in a world famous and celebrated group. Neither his education nor his family environment. ” I learned very recently that it had not been easy for my father to accept the direction I took “, explains Jocelyne Béroard, who narrates the Kassav’ adventure seen from the inside in her book entitled Far from bitter*. A title referring to the many distant lands of her native West Indies, and crossed thanks to music, but also to a form of bitterness to which she never wanted to abandon herself. We will come back to it. Childhood, first of all, adolescence in Martinique. At the Béroards, we do not joke with studies and even less with good manners. Jocelyne notably learns from her dad, a respectable and respected dental surgeon on the island, that a woman never goes to a man who calls her. A principle from which she has never departed. As for singing in public at balls… They can only be women of bad life! After her baccalaureate obtained in 1972, she left to continue her studies in Caen, in Normandy, where she finally abandoned her pharmacy courses for the Beaux-Arts in Paris. Dotted only, since she became a full-time musician, to the chagrin of her parents. Chorister, more precisely, for the French group disguised as Americans Gibson Brothers. Or even Ottawan, where she meets the future members of La Compagnie créole. She also sings behind Manu Dibango, is part of the band of Bernard Lavilliers reggae era and Booth The Ghetto.

⋙ Death of Jacob Desvarieux: Jocelyne Béroard (Kassav ‘) makes a big announcement

And, one thing leading to another, Jocelyne Beroard joined the Kassav’ group, which has existed since 1979. ” They had chosen me because I speak Creole, the language of Kassav’ songs”, she says. From 1984, the group exploded, just like Jocelyne Béroard in solo and in duet in the Top 50 of then with Kole Sere and Philippe Laval. If the zouk then knows a planetary craze and places the French West Indies on the map of the musical world, there remains a world of men as well as prejudices. Her father is finally proud of his daughter, but ” in Martinique, we asked ourselves: “What the hell is the Béroard girl doing here? And, for a long time, in France, when we were on TV, we sang, period. Never interviews! Maybe we thought we weren’t able to speak… We preferred to laugh about it. » Without bitterness, therefore, she supports the a priori, carried by the writing of songs and the tremendous growth of Kassav’ constantly spinning everywhere.I was always gone and it’s not easy for a man to live with a woman who has a certain notoriety, his ego is hurt. I didn’t have children? I have little nephews and a school bears my name in Martinique. Basically, I got married to the music, to my job. »

In 2019, Kassav’ celebrated its fortieth anniversary performing in front of 40,000 people in Paris, before touring the world once again. On July 30, 2020, guitarist and singer Jacob Desvarieux, co-founder of the group, vaccinated but weakened by a kidney transplant, died of the consequences of Covid-19 at the age of 65. ” We said there was no leader, but Jacob was our pillar. I don’t know if it’s the end of Kassav’, but it’s the end of something and we’ll have to pay homage to it. We are working on it. » No, the story is not over, far from it.