Diana and Nairobi

Diana and Nairobi

Hamilton had a  rather idyllic childhood in the Bahamas. At the age of 16, she was sent to continue her education in New York. She later moved to Paris, where she became an English teacher and coach for many years. During this time it never occurred to her that she was or could be a singer. It was not until the day she was with her little boy, Nairobi, playing soccer in a park that her inner voice was awakened.  She watched helplessly as another child became very aggressive toward him. A feeling of distress overcame her due to her inability to shield him from the racism that he was experiencing at that moment. That moment was when her first song came to life within her. 

“I felt this sensation,” she said.”The song came out of nowhere! I sensed rhythm. Then the refrain came and the whole text. It was a friend that I sang it to that let me know that it was a song. He told me to come to his place to record it. I did. I believe this is how it happened with our African ancestors who started singing all of that incredible music from the deep blues of hell they were through and that is how they survived. By singing.” 


That song, “Nairobi,”  became her first single as well as an addition to her first album, “Bahamian in Paris”.  The entire album is something of a sampler of musical styles, with everything from Bahamian percussion to a little French rap, provided by its namesake, Nairobi (under the name of Biron Bikes), now all grown up, and Willie the Kid. During the time between that day in the park and the making of the album a year later, Hamilton worked on developing her voice and experimented with different musical styles.  

Along the way, by chance, she met a notable French musicologist & programmer for the French national radio who fell in love with the Rhyming Spirituals of Joseph Spence at the age of twelve. This music, the music of the Bahamas shifted Hamilton’s focus artistically as well as culturally. The encounter with the radio journalist reintroduced Hamilton to the music of her childhood. “It unlocked all my memories,” she said. It also led her to form a now-defunct trio that performed a typical Bahamian mixture of work songs and spirituals for a time. 

Eventually, she met Patrick Rouchon. Rouchon, a French fashion photographer, fell madly in love with The Bahamas, and partly for this reason he produced Hamilton's first album. Eric Henry-Greard assembled a group for her and helped orchestrate the album by arranging many of the songs, writing music, and performing. After the album was finished, one of FIP’s programmers heard it being played in a Paris restaurant owned by a friend of Hamilton. The programmer introduced it to her colleagues at the radio station. They fell in love with it and called Hamilton in. They told her they would support the album with airplay as well as help her find a distributor. To date, her first album is available around the globe.  

It was the famous French songwriter, Florian Lacour who gave her the chance of a lifetime to sing songs with personal/universal themes that never die. The most notable immediate French hit “Tant D’Annees”  spoke of all the years she spent seeking answers only to discover that they were in her own heart. Another of his pearls is  “Dans Les Petits Cafes”, a tribute to the little French cafes found all over France where one can experience the French way of life.  

Lacour describes Hamilton as such, “She likes to live in France where she rubs shoulders with "Les petits cafés", Diana Hamilton... sings all this with kindness, humor, mischievousness; but moreover, this Bahamian in Paris interprets standards and novelties in her own rhythms be they jazzy, calypso or reggae. She makes us vibrate, backed by a very swinging musical group while making us aware of the history of her people... "

Florian Lacour