IT'S impossible to think of Carnival without calypso. From the plantations where slaves once performed to entertain or insult slave masters’ guests to the post-Emancipation Carnival celebrations, calypso always offered a platform for entertainment and education. If you listen closely to the music of today, you can hear the voices of the past: Lord Executor, Railway Douglas, Lord Beginner, Atilla the Hun and Spoiler. Those pioneering calypsonians laid the foundation for calypso to develop into the structure we know today.
We can’t pile into calypso tents or parade through the streets in pretty mas this year because of covid19, but this calm and peaceful Carnival season is the perfect time to reflect on what calypso means to this country. Join me for a celebration of calypso and a reflection of its history in a calypso series leading up to "Carnival 2021."
This series will trace the emergence of calypso and its connection to Carnival through the recollection of calypso experts, from the late Errol Hill, calypso expert and professor emeritus Gordon Rohlehr, pan expert Dr Kim Johnson and calypso historian/ethnomusicologist Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool. Calypsonians reflect on their past and their present as they put calypso into a personal and national perspective.
Take a trip back in time to the first calypso tents and hear how Railway Douglas, Lord Executor, Atilla the Hun and Spoiler shape calypso’s direction.
Can humorous calypsoes lift our spirits during this Carnival, cancelled because of covid19? Discover the importance of humour in calypso history and Spoiler’s vital role in making humour a branch of calypso along with social and political commentary. Check out what humour means to a modern stalwart. Ironically, covid19 might be making calypso humour more popular and important than ever.
On the opposite end of the spectrum there have been rivalries or calypso wars. This series examines the development of those musical battles. Are these bitter feuds an act or are they real? Do these calypso wars have any place in calypso today?
Throughout calypso history women have been ridiculed viciously by male calypsonians. What role do women play in calypso today?
Is there a way for a calypsonian to win and maintain popularity without ever winning a crown? Find out what calypsonians have to say about calypso beyond the Savannah stage.
Carnival was cancelled during World War II from 1942-1945, and in 1972, Government postponed Carnival because of a polio outbreak. That Carnival inspired Lord Kitchener to write Rainorama, which became a Road March for 1973. Who knows what calypso hits this Carnival will bring? It's a safe bet that memorable calypsoes of this covid19 era will serve as a historical record of how we faced a pandemic.
In hard times, calypso has always served as a chronicle of cultural history. Creativity rises to the surface in unexpected ways, and this is one of the most challenging times we have ever had to face. Yes, Carnival has been cancelled, but it will not be silenced. Join me for a parade through time with Carnival features that evoke a sense of history and nostalgia and showcase how calypso entertains and sustains us.
Next: The stage is set