Calypso Music Pioneers, Part III
As Calypso Music Month comes to a close, we will continue to pay homage to those who worked tirelessly to put Calypso music on the world map.
Some of the artists we will feature in this article were there to lay down the building blocks of the Calypso music industry, while others carried the torch passed on to them by the pioneers.
See our final list of pioneers of the art form below.
If you’ve ever heard the Calypso entitled “Brown Skin Girl,” we are here to inform you that it was originally written and performed by one Norman Span, also known as “King Radio,” and not by Harry Belafonte, as many of you may believe. King Radio was also responsible for bringing women into Calypso music, since he discovered the first female Calypsonian in the Caribbean. Listen to the original, authentic version of “Brown Skin Girl” below.
The Roaring Lion
Rafael De Leon, better known as “The Roaring Lion,” began singing in Calypso tents in the 1930s, and enjoyed a career that spanned 65 years. His controversial 1930s hit “Netty Netty” was once banned in Trinidad and Tobago on the grounds that it was “immoral,” in keeping with the Sedition Laws that censored calypso artists on the island at the time. We’ve included “Netty Netty” (which is PG 13 by today’s standards) below.
Many people think that Calypso Rose was the first female Calypso artist in the Caribbean, but not so; the first woman to ever record a Calypso and to perform in a Calypso tent was Thelma Lewis, who went by the stage name “Lady Trinidad.” Unfortunately, there are no known copies of Lady Trinidad’s originally recorded music; however, here is a cover version of one of her compositions entitled “Nora Nora.”
We can’t celebrate Calypso Music Month without making mention of David Rudder. After all, he is the man behind a song that has become the anthem for Caribbean culture and Calypso itself. That song, entitled “Calypso Music,” is posted below.
Known for her colorful dashikis and elaborate head wraps worn on and off the stage, Ella Andall often fuses African rhythms with her Calypso compositions, creating an infectious sound that the listener can’t help but dance to. Listen to one of her most popular offerings, “Rhythm Of A People,” below.
By: Danielle Dixon
Follow her on Twitter: @tooprettydani