Where Did Kompa Music Come From?

Kompa is an intricate mix of the European ballroom style with African dance and is unique to Haiti. Kompa is derived from "compas," which is Spanish for rhythm, pulse or tone.

The music is recognizable for its continuous, pulsing beat. Compas generally is sung in Creole, French, Spanish, English or a combination of languages. The style was popularized by Nemours Jean-Baptiste, who debuted his band, Ensemble Aux Calebasses, in 1955.

The sound developed by Jean-Baptiste was characterized by plenty of brass and rhythms that were easy to identify. The music style has a corresponding two-step ballroom-type dance known as kare.