The baby of a family of 8, Leon grew up listening to the guitar playing and singing of big brothers, Robert and Gabriel. Too young to be involved in this kind of activity, he used to be kept away when family members and friends got together to have fun in the family’s house. First born brother Raphael did not want him around so he would not develop an early taste for this kind of events, worrying he might neglect his school works and also develop an addiction for alcohol. He and other brother Jean were able to benefit from the knowledge of Gabriel a poet and Raphael a judge who almost every day would talk for hours about literature, history among other things. Early on, he would start writing poetry himself, and since he was not allowed to play guitar, he would hide at a friend’s house (Oswald Genois) and teach himself to play. He was only 16 when he wrote one of his best hits “Va-t-en”. The lyric for this song was so deep that people from his town would say the song was written by Brother Gabriel the poet, and later by another of the town composer, Jean Ledans. In the years to come, a lot of our media’s writers would still wrongly give credit to Leon’s works to Jean Ledans, may be because Leon sang one of Jean Ledans’ song “ma vie, une vallee de douleurs” on one of his albums. One of them would write that Jean Ledans has written Leon Dimanche’s songs, when in fact Leon would release only one of Jean Ledans’ song mentioned above and another one “Pourquoi la rose “was released by Les Lionceaux Des Cayes.
Leon started singing at a very early age. At 6, he was already a member of his school choir (Freres Oblats Du Sacre Cœur), but he really started his solo career, only at 13, after his older brother Raphael heard him sing while showering. He joined the group « Les Black Boys des Cayes » at 15 during the summer, at end of school, since he was not allowed to play during the school year.
A year later, still during the summer, he was found playing with a new band “Organ Combo”, under the direction of Pierrot Leger. He was with that band for 2 years and right after finishing high school, the band was dismantled and a new one formed under his direction, when Organ Combo was forced to perform in “Adults environment not suited for these young musicians”, by a powerful Tonton Macoute, who was angry because he felt they were playing for a selected class of people. Pierrot Leger thought, by making a teenager the leader of the band, the man might leave them alone. It worked and he left him alone. Within a few months, the new group “Les Lionceaux Des Cayes” became the town’s favorite, and was being sought all over the south side of the country.
In 1971, Marcel Mathieu, Director of “Radio Diffusion Haitienne” one of the leading radio station of Port-Au-Prince, was passing by his town, heard of him, and came to one of his performance. He asked him if he could record some of his music to be aired on his radio. He agreed and he recorded “Va-t-en, Nostalgie, Pourqu’oi la rose”, and a few other songs, which within a month were on every body’s lips in the Capital.
Early in 1972, Leon received a signed contract from Mrs. Odette Winner of Bacoulou Night Club in Petion Ville to come and play for her on Saturdays. “Les Lionceaux”performed the first night in that magical ambiance of Petionville, the next day, a Sunday morning, Marcel Mathieu introduced Leon Dimanche And “les Lionceaux Des Cayes” to the youth of Port-Au-Prince in a live and covered event. It was an unbelievable day which‘s still on the mind of many. Within weeks, every single radio station of Port-Au-Prince was airing Leon’s music and offers to perform were coming from all over the Country.
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After releasing his first 2 albums in 1973, he was named the best singer, composer, and vocalist, and was presented by Pierre Edouard Domond, the director of one the Capital best Social Institution, a medal at a live event in Rex Theatre where he and his band performed every Saturday at 6 & 8 PM for the entire year to a sold out crowd.
He went on to play in every famous night club in the Capital, notably the Rond Point Restaurant, where he performed every Saturday night after leaving the Rex Theatre, and Cabane Creole on Sundays to an always impatient crowd who would show up sometimes hours before the event.
There are many famous moments in his career, but one he seems to remember clearly, was when he went to perform at morning concert in Cine Lido one Sunday morning, he got to the place at 9:30, when the show was supposed to start at 10:00, there were hundred of people wanting to get in, outside the theatre, when he finally made it to the gates, he was even more surprised, because there were no room for him to get in. The 2 aisles leading to the stage was crowded and there were at least 200 people on the stage alone. When they saw him, and since there was no room for him to make his way to the stage, the crowd lifted him up and passed him hands to hands all the way to the stage.
He Traveled to the US and Canada and played everywhere for the Haitian Community. He can’t even count the amount of awards he received over the years. He is now working with young talents and is still performing all over. This is of course a short version of his career. There are so many stories about him some he does not even know about, that could fill pages of paper, but surely you have heard some….
He recorded 20 albums both with the Lionceaux and Solo, the last one a Gospel CD which according to many is a work of art. He went on to perform in many famous theaters notably Place des arts in Montreal, BAM and Carnegie Hall in N. Y. etc. He is happy recording albums and writing songs for others, and he is determined with God’s blessing to stay around and keep playing for you all for many years to come.