Sometime after the era of Menudo but before the scourge of the Spice Girls, two New York City musicians with Caribbean roots had a Making the Band moment. They gathered in their secret underground laboratory. "Let's put together a high-caliber konpa group that will reach the top of the charts," Alex Abellard, who was attending City College of New York, said to his friend, musician Eddy Saint-Vil. "Yes," said Saint-Vil as he rubbed his hands together. "The konpa world will be ours, ours, ours! We will mesmerize all music lovers with our hypnotic island tunes, and everyone will dance at our feet!" The two high-fived, and their evil laughter drifted across the Haitian diaspora.
But realizing their dream was not as easy as calling P. Diddy and ordering some image consultants. First, the two had to find eight perfect co-conspirators to join them. Then they had to write some bad-ass jams. After that, there were instruments to master. It was three years before Zin made its first public appearance, but when it did, it drew rumrunner-sippin', booty-shakin' dance zombies like the Pied Piper drew suicidal rats and little German children -- precisely according to plan.
After 19 years, 14 hit albums, numerous lineup changes, headline drama, and charges that the singer is in love with himself, Zin still tours from New York (where it plays weekly) to Port-au-Prince. Occasionally, the band will go and visit 2,500 fans at a concert in Paris or 15,000 of them in Central Park. Four or five times a year, it stops to feel the love in South Florida. So Sunday night, Abellard and Saint-Vil command you to slip into some stretch pants, put a flower in your hair, and prepare to be zombiefied. Resistance is futile. -- Deirdra Funcheon