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Norville Ernesta, epitome of Seychelles’ traditional music, passes away |12 February 2024

Norville Ernesta, epitome of Seychelles’ traditional music, passes away

Mr Ernesta performing during the Airtel Music Awards 2017 (Photo: Seychelles NATION archives)

A well-known figure with the band ‘Fek Arive’, Norville Ernesta, the popular local singer and songwriter of traditional music, passed away on Saturday.

Mr Ernesta has left an indelible mark on Seychelles’ traditional musical journey, with famous tunes such as ‘Madelenn,’ ‘Lorennza,’ ‘Tinge,’ ‘Mon Zil Natal’, Lari Bazar’, ‘Dibwa Pwent, ‘Dousman Miyonn’ and ‘Difé dan Pannyen’.

Born and raised on the island of La Digue, Norville Ernesta was deeply connected to the rich cultural heritage of Seychellois music, especially ‘moutya’ and tinge, among others.

Mr Ernesta was also a gifted musician, entertaining tourists and locals with his music, songs, and unique voice.

In a post on social media, the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage, and the Arts described the veteran musician as “an epitome of our traditional music,” adding that “Mr Norville Ernesta’s passing is a great loss to the Seychelles musical scene, from moutya to kanmtole. We extend our sincere condolences to Mr Ernesta’s family and loved ones.”

Ambassador Patrick Victor shared that the passing of Mr Ernesta is an immense loss for the country. “He contributed so much towards preserving traditional music. Norville Ernesta was one of the people who carried the flame of our traditional music. He contributed a lot to promoting our traditional music, and every time we lose an artist, a part of our history is gone.”

In an interview with Seychelles NATION in September 2019 when he launched his compilation of 10 songs, Mr Ernesta himself said: “Moutya is our culture. When you talk about Seychellois culture, the first thing that comes to mind is moutya, and this is why my album is titled ‘Nou Kiltir’. My inspiration is Seychelles, our culture, and our way of life. Back in my younger days, ‘moutya ‘was popular, but it is slowly becoming less popular, especially with the younger generation.”

Nou Kiltir’ was Mr Ernesta’s eighth studio album. He began making music at the age of 18, then took a hiatus to focus on his family life and career. However, he made a comeback in the 1990s and became a staple in the ‘moutya’ genre.

During that time, Mr Ernesta emphasised that young musicians should embrace their culture instead of conforming to “mainstream music” dominating the local music industry.

The veteran artist also stressed the importance of music and culture associations in preserving ‘moutya’ and supporting artists in that genre. He mentioned that to produce the ‘Nou Kiltir’ album, he had to use his own finances, highlighting the lack of support from music associations for traditional artists who struggle financially to release new albums or perform.

Throughout his musical career, Norville Ernesta remained deeply committed to promoting Seychellois culture both locally and internationally. His music traveled worldwide, and as a musician, he went for tours, sharing the rich musical traditions of the Seychelles with audiences across the globe.

At the 2017 Airtel Music Award, Norville Ernesta clinched the best traditional song award with his song ‘Lari Bazar’.

He also got the opportunity to pass on his skills and knowledge to some children through music workshops.

As the country mourns the loss of Norville Ernesta, his music on various platforms allows us to celebrate his life and the profound impact he had on the Seychellois culture. Seychelles NATION extends its sincere condolences to all those affected by the loss of Mr Ernesta.


Vidya Gappy

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