Curaçao is an island in the south Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela, where centuries of cohabitation between people from European, African and Amerindian descent, albeit not in the nicest of ways, have created a rich mixture of people, language and culture.
Papiamentu is the language spoken on Curaçao – and neighbouring Aruba and Bonaire – and it is an offspring of mostly Portuguese mixed with some Spanish, Dutch, African and Amerindian words. Just like with Portuguese, words in Papiamentu are very rhythmical and percussive in structure and they also blend well into one another, making it an excellent language to sing in. This album is a testimony to that, seeing that it contains some of the most beautiful songs written in our native tongue. Randal, Kris and myself all grew up on this small Island in the Antilles and although Dutch was the official language when we were growing up, Papiamentu is the language we grew up speaking and still speak socially. When Randal and I were booked to give a concert at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam in 2018, we added Kris Berry to our little ensemble in order to do a repertoire of mostly songs in Papiamentu. Having worked in all types of other genres over the years, this going-back-to-the-proverbial-root-of things was a very organic experience for all of us. Hence the title of the album, Raís, which is the Papiamentu word for root.
Because of the way Jared Sacks records in DSD, the recording itself was a very interesting experience. Randal had to contain himself, sitting at a huge concert grand, while Kris and I had to push more for volume, all of us continuously listening very intently to each other as there were no monitors used during the sessions. We ended up with a very intimate recording. Jared had set us up in a very large hall in the MCO building in Hilversum and besides the occasional voice messages over a little speaker in a corner, he was very much absent. It therefore really felt like the three of us in a room making music together.