Long live Kaiso!
LET'S GO BACK IN TIME
Within the next ten years, artists like Executor, Growling Tiger, Lord Caresser, Lord Invader, Lord Beginner, The Mighty Destroyer, and others had recorded with Decca in New York: “Decca even sent recording facilities to Trinidad between 1938 and 1940. Hundreds of calypsos were recorded during this period”, so De Leon.
As De Leon describes: “The “Great Depression” of the 1930s brought adverse times to Trinidad and Tobago. Phenomenally high levels of unemployment, poverty, anti-colonial sentiment, civil and labor unrest, and the overhanging threat of war were all insensitive to encourage the colonial government to introduce Sedition Laws”. These laws gave the authorities the right to censor and ban calypsos. As Raphael De Leon describes, dumped the Commissioner of Police and Customs 1937 the entire shipment of Roaring Lion’s „Netty Netty“ records in the harbor of Port of Spain.
In 1935, the first female to sing in a calypso tent was Lady Trinidad (Thelma Lane), who made her debut at the ‚Crystal Palace Tent‘ on Nelson Street in Port of Spain. Her success paved the way for two more female calypsonians to follow in her footsteps in 1936: Lady Baldwin (Mavis Baldwin) and Lady MacDonald (Doris MacDonald). In 1937, Lady Trinidad made history when she became the first female calypsonian to make a record.
This is the „cute“ version of the Andrew Sisters. The song was supposedly copyrighted in the United States by the entertainer Morey Amsterdam. The song became an international hit record.
Andrew Sisters – Rum and Coca Cola (1944)
Here are just a few examples:
Lord Caresser – Edward VII (1940s)
Harry Belafonte – Love, love alone (1956)
King Radio – Mathilda (1939)
Harry Belafonte – Matilda (1982)
Roaring Lion – Mary Ann (1945)
Harry Belafonte & Julie Andrews – Mary Ann (1972)
In 2017 Calypso Rose received the French Grammy for her album “Far From Home”. In 2019 she performed together with soca artist Nailah Blackman, the granddaughter of Lord Shorty, and Machel Montano at the famous “Coachella Festival“ in a desert area of California (USA).
Let me share this sweet little piece of history with you out of the documentary „20 years in the desert“ released in 2021.
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Jocelyne Guibault (2007): Governing Sound – The cultural politics of Trinidad’s Carnival Music
University of Chicago, Ian Randle Publishers
Rafael de Leon, Transcripts from The Roaring Lion Website
Gerard Besson (2011): Calypso, Calypso Music
BBC (2017): The surprising politics of Calypso
Yvonne Web (2012): Trinidad Guardian – History through the eyes of Calypsonians
Jesse Server (2017): The Rise of Soca
Ronald C. Emrit: Calypso History
Calypsoworld.Org: Calypso in Trinidad – Carnival and Musical Traditions
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