Disparition d’Yves Renard, ancien organisateur de Jazz in the South

Très triste nouvelle aujourd’hui. Andy Narell vient juste de nous annoncer la disparition d’Yves Renard. Yves était un activiste passionné des musiques caribéennes et avait, pendant 19 ans, maintenu à flot le festival Jazz in the South à Sainte Lucie. Nous avions eu la chance d’y participer avec Iguane Xtet en 2009 et nous en garderons un souvenir formidable. Nos plus sincères condoléances à sa famille et à ses amis. Nous publions ici, le billet que vient d’écrire Andy Narell, très affecté.

Yves Renard et Andy Narell

“Yves Renard died today. Our hearts are broken. I’m not sure I can explain how much he meant to us all.

I came to Laborie in 1997 to play a free concert with Ray Holman, Robert Greenidge, and a group of Saint Lucian musicians. Following that wonderful night Yves, Barth (Augustin Barthelemy), and Len (Leonce) started Jazz in the South, which they presented for the next 19 years, despite a general lack of funding and governmental support. The festival featured Caribbean and African artists – Fatoumata Diawara, Meddy Gerville, Pedrito Martinez, Etienne Charles, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, Mushy Widmaier, Luther Francois, Relator, Dennis Rollins, Tanya St. Val, Sakésho, Tony Chasseur, and many many others. They also launched Laborie Steel Pan with Quill Barthelemy, which is still going strong. After Jazz in the South Yves booked the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival for two years when they decided to stop spending millions on pop music and put the focus on jazz.

In 2010, Yves came to our house in Les Lilas and asked if I would be the patron of Jazz in the South – represent the festival, perform, and help with programming ideas and promotion. I offered to teach the kids in Laborie as part of that job and Yves offered us a bungalow to stay in. Anita and I spent two months there that first time, my kids came down, we fell in love with Laborie, and we’ve been here ever since.

Yves was involved in so many things – I’ve never known anyone with a more diverse portfolio. His real job involved traveling the world, studying many of the world’s most intractable environmental and economic problems in the poorest countries, trying to find solutions, and to get governmental and non-governmental organizations to work together. He worked in dozens of Caribbean and African countries, wrote reports and chaired meetings involving 20+ countries at a time. He knew more about Caribbean history and politics than anyone I know, had a huge collection of Caribbean (and other) literature in English and French, and was involved in dozens of projects in Saint Lucia at any given time, with a special focus on developing culture and education in Laborie.

He was an avid hiker. All the years he was raising his kids here he and his friends and their kids would follow rivers up into the mountains, exploring the island and getting lost on purpose. He also helped to create the famous WNT trail in Dominica – a first of its kind – and walked the entire length.

Yves leaves behind a loving family – a wife, 2 sons, a daughter, and 6 grandchildren – all girls. His (unfulfilled) dream was to go on a road trip with all 6 together (a 15 year age range). He also leaves behind a whole village that he loved and fought for, and we will never forget him here. He was my partner in everything I’m doing here in Laborie, and today I feel so lost. We had so many more plans to hatch, so many more ti-ponches and books to share.

Our hearts go out to Marianne, who gave it her all, and to David, Jamal, and Lisa. To Kissana, Kaya, and the rest of the grandchildren, and Evelyne.

RIP Yves, mon frère…. I’m gonna miss you bad bad…”

Andy Narell

January 20, 2023

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