By Charles de Ledesma. Calypso has its roots in canboulay music brought to the Caribbean by African slaves, but the style is constantly being revitalised and reinterpreted. Charles de Ledesma traces its history and chooses his top ten albums. This article originally appeared in Songlines Subscribe to Songlines to explore the best music from around the world. Best of Arrow Musicrama,
Outside the Caribbean, calypso music is regarded as carefree, light-hearted, even frivolous. Originating in the struggle for emancipation, the genre is characterised by its witty and imaginative treatment of themes as diverse as racism, the Cold War, and the cost of living. The most famous track, Banana Boat Day-O , is not actually a calypso, and the album is a celebration of Jamaica, even though calypso originates on the other side of the Caribbean, in Trinidad. Calypso is rooted in traditions developed by West African slaves brought to the Caribbean. Kaisos were performed by a griot or chantwell , a local bard who told stories in song, offering social commentary through praise, satire or lament.
In 1881 Britain banned percussion in the Caribbean – so steel pan music was born
Skip to main content. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Learn more about Amazon Prime. Get free delivery with Amazon Prime. Amazon Best Sellers Our most popular products based on sales. Updated hourly. Best Sellers in Calypso Music. Very Best of Harry Belafonte. Harry Belafonte. Big Band Hits: In the Mood.
As I promised — or should that be threatened? The previous one was my ten personal favourite reggae singers — with the emphasis on personal. But before I get into the list, a sad task: a farewell salute to a musician who made a major contribution to soca and calypso, as well as to reggae. But the Caribbean owed much more than a musical debt to Kittitian Ras Tamboura Kitwana, who died recently. He was a grassroots educator, a noted historian, and a highly respected Rastafarian elder who championed the movement in the days — not so long ago — when its followers were often treated with suspicion and scorn by mainstream Caribbean society. He was also a true gentleman, in every sense of the word. He played percussion and sang, touring extensively — mainly in North America and Britain — in the days when the bands were at the peak of their popularity. RIP, Tamboura, and I wish you were around to tell me where I might have gone wrong with the following list.