FK: You grew up in a German family and spent much of your childhood in Haiti. When you released your LP from Germany in 1979 of Haitian songs, how was the reception from the Haitian community?
TC: My first LP, called "Haiti", was a collection of well-known Haitian folksongs and some great compositions of Marcel O. Gilles. When the LPs were sent to Haiti and distributed to the radio stations it was an instant success. I arrived some months later and was warmly welcomed. It was only then, at my first concerts, that the fans met me, many of them did not even know that I am white skinned. The Haitian film ANITA, where I played the role of SIMBI, the goddess of the sea, added to my popularity.
FK: What happens to you when you're on stage when you're performing that makes you return?
TC: Performing has never been my main focus. It is the creation of songs and working with composers that is my fulfillment. Being on stage is only the result from those years of work. It is this wonderful feeling when the audience listened to the words and cherish your music, that makes you love to sing for them.
FK: Did you ever feel out of place growing up in Haiti being as how you were German?
TC: No never out of place, quite the contrary, Haiti is very much “at home” for me. Although I did not attend schools in Haiti, but was tutored by my mother in the German language. Of course the oddity of this cultural background made me feel somehow an outsider throughout my life, but maybe it is also what pushed me so strongly to find an identity in my music and that is mainly expressed in Haitian Creole. Growing up with different cultures can be difficult but it is a very rich experience.
FK: Do you have a favorite memory of Haiti growing up?
TC: Above all the Haitian people that still manage to celebrate life even in the midst of so much hardship. The tropical nature and wonderful climate of course... “Sous le ciel d’Haïti” (by the way it is not a dream of the past as many people think, it is a real place alive in the heart of every Haitian I have met).
FK: Have you accomplished everything you wanted musically?
TC: Oh no! I will never stop, as it is so exiting to work on new musical projects. For the moment I concentrate on a new CD together with Jean Claude Martineau (Koralen), that I believe will be a real surprise for all the lovers of Haitian culture.
FK: What should the upcoming generation of musicians look out for if they plan to have a long music career as you did?
TC: It is much more difficult to start a career now than when I started over 30 years ago. There are so many musicians and singers trying to succeed. On the other hand you can market yourself through the internet and build up your own fan base. One thing is still the same. As long as you don't develop your own personal style and musical identity you will never make it to the top. So look into your roots and see what Haiti has to offer, with its rich heritage of rhythms and culture, and take your inspiration from there. This is the way to be original and unique.
FK: What should fans expect from you in the near future?
TC: As I already mentioned, a new very interesting CD production, and in November 2013 I am invited as special guest at the 50th anniversary Gala for "L'Orchestre Tropicana" in New York and also in Canada. I am looking forward to this great event with musician friends from home, “Moun Okap!”