calypso music


  • Alternatively, the insert for The Rough Guide to Calypso and Soca (published by World Music Network) favours John Cowley’s arguments in Carnival, Canboulay and Calypso: Traditions
    in the Making, that the word might be a corruption of the French carrouseaux and through the process of patois and Anglicization became caliso and then finally “calypso”; however, Cowley also notes that the first mention of the word “calypso”
    is given in a description of a dance in 1882 by Abbé Masse.

  • [5] Perhaps due to the constraints of the wartime economy, no recordings of note were produced until the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the “golden era” of calypso would
    cement the style, form, and phrasing of the music.

  • 1944’s “Rum and Coca-Cola” by the Andrews Sisters, a cover version of a Lord Invader song, became an American hit despite the song being a very critical commentary on the
    explosion of prostitution, inflation and other negative influences accompanying the American military bases in Trinidad at the time.

  • In March 1934, he sent Roaring Lion and Attila the Hun to New York City to record; they became the first calypsonians to record abroad, bringing the genre out of the West
    Indies and into pop culture.

  • The origins of calypso competitions dates back to the early 19th century post emancipation where formerly enslaved communities would hold calypso wars showcasing their singing
    and dancing.

  • In 1914, the second calypso recordings—including the first sung in English—were done by chantwell Julian Whiterose, better known as the Iron Duke and famous calinda stick-fighter.

  • Popularity[edit] The first major stars of calypso started crossing over to new audiences worldwide in the late 1930s.

  • Modern calypso, however, began in the 19th century, a fusion of disparate elements ranging from the masquerade song lavway, French Creole belair and the calinda stick-fighting

  • Early forms of calypso were also similar to jazz (which came after) such as Sans Humanitae.

  • Several films jumped on the calypso craze in 1957 such as Island in the Sun (20th Century Fox) that featured Belafonte and the low-budget films Calypso Joe (Allied Artists),
    Calypso Heat Wave (Columbia Pictures), and Bop Girl Goes Calypso (United Artists).

  • However, second version found greater popularity amongst Caribbean people themselves as the lyrics conveyed a story of West Indian immigrants facing discrimination and cultural
    alienation while living in Britain.

  • The following year with “Come Leh We Jam”, she won the “Calypso King ” competition, the first time a woman had received the award.

  • [1] Although Kitchener’s alternate version of “Windrush” did not gain as much commercial popularity, the duality of the two versions exemplify how calypso music was used as
    an outlet for social commentary.

  • [citation needed] After Trinidad and Tobago gained independence in 1962, calypso music continued to be used as an outlet for political commentary.

  • Calypso music frequently was used as a form of musical protest.

  • In particular, during the movement to independence, calypso music would include common messages of a desire for independence, opposition to colonial rule and empowerment for
    people of African descent.

  • Soul shouter Gary “US” Bonds released a calypso album Twist up Calypso (1962) on Legrand records, shortly after returning home from his military post in Port of Spain.

  • Calypso had another short burst of commercial interest when Tim Burton’s horror/comedy film Beetlejuice (1988) was released, and used Belafonte’s “Jump In The Line” as the
    soundtrack’s headliner and also “The Banana Boat Song” in the dinner-party scene.

  • In the first track is possible to notice a strong style influence.

  • The first version gained more global popularity as the lyrics expressed gratitude and appreciation for British colonial rule.

  • Calypso continued to play an important role in political expression.

  • Prior to the independence of Trinidad and Tobago, calypsonians would use their music to express the daily struggles of living in Trinidad, critique racial and economic inequalities,
    express opinions on social order, and voice overall concerns for those living on the island.

  • Recordings[edit] The first identifiably calypso genre song was recorded in 1912, by Lovey’s String Band while visiting New York City.

  • Sá Gomes, a Portuguese immigrant who owned a local music and phonograph equipment shop in Port of Spain, promoted the genre and gave financial support to the local artists.

  • [10] During the colonial era, the Black lower class used calypso music to protest their poor economic situation and the discrimination which they were subjected to.

  • [6] Later in 1953 Calypso competitions held the same showcasing nature, but became politicized as the People’s National Movement (PNM) took over as the main organizer of competitions.

  • Calypsonians pushed the boundaries of free speech as their lyrics spread news of any topic relevant to island life, including speaking out against political corruption.

  • [3] Calypso music has also been used by politicians to promote political agendas through Calypso competitions.

  • Sex, scandal, gossip, politics, local news, and insulting other calypsonians were the order of the day in classic calypso, just as it is today with classic hip-hop.

  • Countless recordings were dumped at sea in the name of censorship, although in truth, rival US companies did this in the spirit of underhanded competition, claiming that the
    rivals’ material was unfit for US consumption.

  • [7] Perhaps the most straightforward way to describe the focus of calypso is that it articulated itself as a form of protest against the authoritarian colonial culture which
    existed at the time.

  • He made his home there along with Wilmoth Houdini, and became one of the great calypsonians of the US.


Works Cited

[‘Richard Allsopp, Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 131.
2. ^ Mendes (1986), p. 30.
3. ^ Jump up to:a b c John Cowley, Carnival, Canboulay and Calypso: Traditions in the Making Archived 2017-01-09 at the Wayback
Machine, Cambridge University Press, p. 98.
4. ^ Calypso Worldwide Retrieved 27 November 2020
5. ^ Richie Unterberger, [ Lionel Belasco Artist Biography] AllMusic. Retrieved 07
June 2022
6. ^ Jump up to:a b Funk, Ray. “Roaring Lion (Raphael Arius Kairiyama De Leon AKA Hubert Raphael Charles, 15.6.08 – 11.7.99)”. Archived 2010-12-30 at the Wayback Machine
7. ^ Consuming the Caribbean Archived 2014-04-05 at the Wayback
8. ^ j.poet (1994). Sparrow. In Hot Like Fire, Album liner notes. London: Ice Records.
9. ^ Calypso Christmas – album conducted and arranged by Leonard De Paur in 1956 on
10. ^ Jump up to:a b Blatter, Alfred (2007). Revisiting
Music Theory: a guide to the practice, p. 28. ISBN 0-415-97440-2.
11. ^ “Calypso and the birth of British Black Music”.
12. ^ Wardle, Huon; Obermuller, Laura (2018). “The Windrush generation”. Anthropology Today. 34 (4): 3–4. doi:10.1111/1467-8322.12445.
ISSN 1467-8322.
2. Hill, Donald R. Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad (1993). ISBN 0-8130-1221-X. (cloth); ISBN 0-8130-1222-8 (pbk). University Press of Florida. 2nd edition: Temple University Press (2006); ISBN 1-59213-463-7.
3. Mendes,
John (1986). Cote ce Cote la Trinidad and Tobago Dictionary. John Mendes, Arima, Trinidad.
4. Quevedo, Raymond (Atilla the Hun). 1983. Atilla’s Kaiso: a short history of Trinidad calypso (1983). University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad.
(Includes the words to many old calypsos as well as musical scores for some of Atilla’s calypsos.)
5. Gittens, Sinclair (August 12, 2010). “The origin of calypso”. Nation Newspaper. Retrieved January 2, 2017.