Curaçao’s singer/songwriter/composer Rudy Plaate has composed over 400 songs over the course of his career, his genres range from waltz and tumba to mazurka, and the vast majority of his compositions profess deep love and admiration for his ‘island muse’ in her native Papiamentu.
Deeply passionate and highly attuned to current affairs, some of Plaate’s music also laments the social and political tensions that plague his young muse and the rest of the world.
Whatever the case may be, Rudy Plaate’s wonderful sense of humor, sage-like prophecies and deep cultural insight are always present in his music. And lucky for Curaçao, Plaate has been very generous when it comes to teaching and mentoring young, up-and-coming musicians (such as popular children’s choir, Perlitas)
So lets dive a little deeper into Plaate’s music… this post will be play-and-tell.
Plaate’s most iconic composition is Atardi (Evening). Most would agree when I say that this song is second only to Curaçao’s National Anthem in popularity. Those of us far from home find ourselves in Plaate’s praise and nostalgia time and again.
Atardi Kòrsou ta bunita
Ora ku solo ta baha
Ora tur para ta kanta félis
Promé ku nan bai sosega
Atardi para kant’i playa
Un goso ta jena nos alma
Ta manera nos isla ta hal’un roséa
P’e jama e dia ayo
Pero atardi tambe tin tristesa
Or’e dia ta jega su fin
Ta manera un parti di nos ta bajendo y jamás nos lo bolbe miré
Curaçao’s evening is beautiful / when the sun is setting / the birds chirp happily / before they retire to rest
Sunset against the beach shore / fills our soul with joy / like our island takes a breath / to bid the day farewell
But evening also brings sadness / when another day comes to an end / like a part of us disappears / never to be seen again.
Mi ke sa (I want to know…)
Mi ke sa ta kon Kòrsou lo bira Aki binti anja na anja dos mil Si nos tin progreso o mas problema Si nos tin mas amor i komprenshon
Mi ke sa ta kon Kòrsou lo bira Si nos tin mas fiesta, paranda i bon bida Si ahinda tin auto di lujo ta koré Of nan ta riba bloki ta trese rekuerdo
Mi ke sa ta kon Kòrsou lo bira Si ahinda tin number i tambe sigui seis Si ahinda tin Shell i hotelnan bunita Si ahinda Kòrsou ta dushi Kòrsou
Mi ke sa si ahinda nos tin nos rumanan Aruba Boneiru tame Isla Ariba Si ahinda Antias su nomber ta Antias Of ku egoismo a kibr’é famia
I want to know if we’ll still have our brothers [in 2000] / Aruba, Bonaire and the Windward Islands / If we still go by the Netherlands Antilles / or if our egos have torn our family apart
(The political structure dissolved in 2010)
Dugudugu Sin Sous
Ay laga mi bai, mi mester bai, mi’n por keda mas
no tene mi mas … ay mi ta kansá
Ba trata mi nechi pero … un tiki peshó
Ay mi tin ku bai dugudugu, mi’n por keda mas
Ba cende bela, hasi bruá, pa mi keda pa bo so
Pero mi dushi, mi stima bo, per’e otro ta mihó
Ay ba bai ballet i gymnastiek pa bo bira los
Ba bai pinta kabei kambia bo so ya aunk’e ta meskos
Loke bo falta ta tiki mas sous
Bo’n por yuda … dugudugu, mala sueltu bo tin
As much as I love ‘Dugudugu Sin Sous’ (‘Dugudugu’, derived from Dushi, has to be the world’s most awesome nickname and ‘you light candles [to pray], practice santeria, so I stay faithful / honey, I love you, but the other one is better… it’s not your fault, you lack some [hot] sauce’), my all-time favorite Rudy Plaate is ‘Minirok‘ (1967): ‘Miss, your miniskirt is very short, wear it at home, wear it at the beach, but please don’t wear it in Punda!’. Funny enough, Plaate was so frustrated when he first heard ‘Minirok’ mastered that he loaded the batch into his car and set it on fire at a landfill. Lucky for us (and him) not all the records went up in flames and ‘Minirok’ went on to become a huge hit. (Source)
In 1961 Plaate put out ‘Santa Maria‘ in reference to the hijacking of the Portuguese cruise ship led by
military officer Henrique Galvão hoping to overthrow the 30+ year dictatorship of Portuguese President Salazar. Galvão’s hijacking failed, but Plaate’s song became an underground anthem of resistance against Salazar’s dictatorship. Mind you, Plaate’s song is in Papiamentu, not in Portuguese, but he’s still on Portugal’s ‘Persona Non Grata’ list.
Lucky for us Gino Jacobs, Boudino de Jong, Kendrick Bakhuis’ awesome (newly launched!) Dutch Caribbean music streaming service Skempi includes all of Plaate’s tracks, by album, by year… So, go on, discover or re-discover Rudy Plaate’s immense charm and share your favorite tracks / anecdotes with us!