Raoul Denis Jr, known by the nickname Tira, is a journalist and musician born June 22, 1958 in Port-au-Prince. He is known for, among other things, having been the presenter of the very popular children’s program “Ribambelle” on TéléMax and a member of the legendary group “Zeklè”. The one who is about to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a musician, answered our questions for the series Kote W Ye?
LoopHaiti : Where does Tira currently live?
Tira: Currently I live in New Jersey, USA with my family. We have been living there since 2018. My family life is very good. I live with my family. But my daughter Soukaïna lives with her own family, not too far from us in New York. I also have three boys. Elin, Djavan, Enyo.
LH : A quick history of TéléMax and CanalBleu, two television channels that you managed?
Tira: TéléMax was born on May 1, 1993 and the opening took place at 4 am sharp that day, precisely with Ribambelle on the screen. It was the beginning of a long adventure and a passionate relationship between the public and all of us, animators, directors, cameramen, and management staff, who formed this young and innovative station. Ribambelle, Videomax, le 5 Sportif, Objectif, are all programs that delighted an audience who was discovering a new way of doing television in Haiti. Nady, Maryse, Farah, Behrmann and I were among the first program presenters, under the direction of Bobby Denis and Jacqueline, his wife and programming director. We were joined a little later by Paul Villefranche and Gary Pierre-Paul Charles, to name but a few. Our directors Sandra Duvivier and Patrick Denis, our cameramen and all the staff were very close to the station, whose very popular slogan was: “TELEMAX, it’s clear, it’s the 5th”!
Canal Bleu was an extension of TéléMax. After “La 5” was taken over by other entrepreneurs in 2003, most of us who were part of the original Telemax team left to open Canal Bleu two years later, still under the management by Bobby Dennis. Canal Bleu still works well and nowadays hosts a very popular cultural program, Evens Jean’s “Top Grooves”.
From 2006 on Canal Bleu I presented my program in a new format, “Bisou-Bisou” and with the team in place, we created a few times later, a new program very popular with young people, “Kom Si… Wow ! “. Unfortunately, all of this good momentum was broken by the 2010 earthquake, and many of us had to give up. In 2011 I moved away from Canal Bleu to go and direct a project of the Ministry of Culture: “The National Institute of Music of Haiti, INAMUH” in Pandiassou, a locality in the municipality of Hinche. I led this project until 2015.
Loop: “Ribambelle” was a very popular children’s show in Haiti, which you presented on TELEMAX. Do you miss this show like the 80-90 generation?
Tira: I am happy that Ribambelle marked one, and even several generations! I miss my Gros Papash and Bisou Bisou, of course, but more than that, it’s the desire to pass on general, local and international knowledge to children.
Loop : Then there was, for the show, this famous end that remains in the minds of many fans: “A big papache and a kiss kiss”. An inspiration from Tira?
Tira: In fact, I was inspired by the last image of the “Korekteman” music video released shortly before the opening of TELEMAX. At the end of this video, we see this image with my head in my hands (laughs). It is from this image that I was inspired to create the famous goodbye “Bisou Bisou” by adding “Un Gros Papash”. I also invite the public to find more than ten episodes that I have grouped together on my YouTube channel:
Many nostalgic Ribambelle fans have already enjoyed these episode reruns and I invite you all to do the same!
Loop: It’s been a long time since we’ve seen you in the media. How have you been since?
(Laughs). It is true that I do not have a presence in the media in Haiti since I live abroad, but I try to keep as much as possible a presence in the Haitian community both in the diaspora and in Haiti. I never trade my voluntary participation in certain events of national life, (when it is worth it, of course!) and I actively continue my cultural and artistic life, via social networks and with my many musician friends.
Zèklè continues to perform, even if we have decided to give the stage to the youngest. Our last performances to date were those of 2018 with Mizik Mizik and 2020, with the famous Jacob Desvarieux of Kassav’, of late memory.
The pandemic has somehow broken the momentum of the majority of musicians in the world and we Haitians have also suffered. Then the extremely chaotic, desperate and absurd situation in Haiti since 2021 has put to agony not only the national life, but also the cultural life of our dear Haiti.
LH : You are currently planning the celebration of your 50th year of your musical career. What will be on the menu?
Tira: I started to enter the studio since 2018. After a stop due to Covid19, I was able to resume my recording sessions and, instead of a single CD album, now I will have two!
I also started producing shows in the United States, with my friend and associate Gary Sylvain who has been successfully running “The Eclectic Crew” in New York for many years. Gary and I recently created “Sylvain-Denis” productions. This is how Sylvain-Denis productions, together with a whole management team headed by the very dynamic Jean-Philippe Argant, CEO of “AMECO”, undertook to celebrate my 50-year career, by bringing together a whole series of events under the “Ti Ra50” label:
• Strong presence on social networks;
• Release of the “Ti Ra & Friends” collection which will include two new albums and a special edition of my previous productions;
• Production of at least ten online training sessions with the collaboration of music professionals;
• And a project close to my heart, the “Mizik Se Lavi” Foundation, whose mission will be to work on the education of musical talents in Haiti as well as those who are interested in careers that revolve around music.
LH : Which of these scenarios would you rather Definitively resume your musical career; Where start presenting “Ribambelle” again.
Tira: If I had the means and a technical team at my disposal, I would undoubtedly start presenting the program “Ribambelle” again, especially with the ease of making programs on YouTube today. Maybe I can do it in the near future, but for now I’m focusing on Tira50.
HL : A last word for the fans of “Zèklè” and “Tira”.
Tira: To music fans in general and particularly those of Zèklè and Ti Ra, I would tell them that music is life, and love. We will continue to give love and joy in music, as much as we can. Ti Ra and Zèklè will be with Zenglen and Mizik Mizik on July 29, 2022 in Miami and on July 30 and 31 with Mizik Mizik in New York. Join us to celebrate 35 years of Zenglen, 36 years of Mizik Mizik, 40 years of Zèklè and of course, 50 years of Ti Ra who is “pi granmoun ke yo tout!” (laughs). I invite all Loop readers to follow us on
Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok.
LH : A last word for fans of “Ribambelle”.
Tira: (To smile). My last word for fans of “Ribambelle” is obviously “A big papache and a bizou bizou”.