Up-Close … with the National Arts Council’s chief executive Jimmy Savy-‘My wish is to make a difference in people’s lives’


Jimmy SavyUpon meeting him at the National Arts Council building in the Stad Popiler car park, he was busy preparing the upcoming Arts Festival which will kick off on August 30.

He was definitely in his element there, all excited about this four-day event which will once again promote our culture.

“This is where I get my drive, from these events and the satisfaction of having given the public something extraordinary,” he said.
He was at ease and calm despite all the pressure that being responsible for organising such activities can bring on.

That’s what has kept him in the arts for over 20 years and all began at an early age where he learned to play the acoustic guitar and even committed himself to his first band -- the Bel Air Boys which later was named The Wanderers.

“In those days, back in the 1980s, we were disciplined and passionate about bands and music.”

Among the players in the band was well known keyboardist Alain Bacco and “we waited anxiously for a chance to show our skills after the adults took their breaks in restaurants such as Rendez-Vous”.

But this passion for music as well as his leadership skills got a boost from one of the most popular bands he managed in the 1990s called Waves.

Among the big names that constituted the band were David Francoise (lead guitar, keyboard), Tony Laporte (vocals), Jones Benoit (bass), Bennet Jean (drums), Barry Gonthier (keyboard) and May Cecile Lajoie (vocals).

“The 10 years with Waves was a fantastic experience and fun; we had our own fan club and were highly in demand.”

Mr Savy said they were a family and “our journey together was one filled with awesome memories”.

He recalled when they started out they had to market themselves to get contracts.

“This was no easy task, we had to play for free.”

“Once we got a chance to play at the tracking station at La Misère. We had practiced about 15 songs and were well prepared.”

They were told that if the foreigners and others guests were impressed with their peformance they will get the contract.

That night Waves gave their best shot and “by 10pm, the boss came and put some money in my pocket and told us to carry on as the music was fantastic”.

Jimmy said this was a relief, and though “we did not have other songs in our repertoire we came up with more on the spot”.

Having performed well, they were soon being recommended and entertained at weddings and other gatherings, shows, balls, as well as in hotels.

Speaking at a recent press conference on the upcoming Arts Festival

Getting a contract with hotels also was a challenge but a video of their performance and the band itself by the SBC was a great marketing tool which opened many doors for Waves.

“Seychellois and even foreigners loved us and during those days we packed every halls we played in, it was a legacy.

But we had to break up after exactly 10 years as it got more expensive to manage a band with hotels deciding to move to cheaper forms of entertainment which usually was a one-man band.

“Our fan club was not too happy about our decision but the group members had other plans, their families and other commitments, so we had to part.”

As a band, Waves performed the ‘Last Dance’ at Reef Hotel and Jimmy had to move on as well.

“Being idle is not me, though I was band leader during those years I also had a career.”

At the start he was a researcher at Lenstiti Kreol where together with Nirmal Jivan Shah they produced the first monolingual dictionary – one on fishing and the other about agriculture.

Jimmy’s dream job was to be a lawyer, but later he changed his mind and has no regrets.

He has chaired the Musician Association and managed the International Conference Centre.

For him the arts is where he belongs with a passion, including literature and martial arts.
“Truly life prepares you for any eventuality, as long as you have positive vibes you can achieve anything realistic.”

At the start, artists like Bob Marley had a great influence on Jimmy, but he also has respect for local veteran artists like Patrick Victor, Francois Havelock and John Wirtz and many others who have become close acquaintances of his.

Jimmy said he also admires young artists and do not believe in the ‘Ti Men’ label.

“All men have been ‘Ti Men’ at one point in their lives, when they were young and still following styles and trying to find themselves.”

For example, my son Michael, aka Ion Kid, is a young lad and is so much into music.

Many will put him in the ‘Ti Men’ category but just like me he started out in music at a young age.

Later his cousin Sandra joined him and now they are both on top of their game along with other young talents such as Verna, Curious and others.
He said he did not choose this path for his son; he was just a mentor for him.

Jimmy encouraged the youths to shine and compose and all other artists -- be it in literature, photography and other forms of art -- to give their best in whatever they do.

“Art is beauty and gives meaning to life, you are important people,” is his message to all artists.

“And on my part as the council’s chief executive, my wish is to make a difference in people’s lives and touch the people I work with especially the artists in Seychelles.”