Calypso AG-36 - History

Calypso AG-36 - History

Calypso II

The second Calypso (No. 632), a motor boat, served in the Navy during 1917 1919.

(AG-36: dp. 357: 1 166'; b. 25'3"; dr. 13'2"; B. 16 k.;
cl Potomac)

The third Calypso (AG-35) was launched 6 January 1932 for the Coast Guard by Bath Iron Works Corp. Bath, Maine; transferred from the Coast Guard to the Navy 17 May 1941, commissioned the same day, Chief Boatswain J. H. Keevers in command.

Calypso was based at the Washington Navy Yard as a tender to her sister ship, the Presidential yacht Potomac (AG 25). In this capacity, her operations were confined largely to the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay until 22 July 1941, when she put out for a cruise to Nova Scotia. During a portion of this cruise she had on board President Franklin D Roosevelt bound for the famous Atlantic Conference in Argentia Bay, Newfoundland, with Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain. Her other movements were to provide cover for the President's travels. Returning to Washington 23 August, Calypso was decommissioned 20 January 1942 and returned to the Coast Guard.

Calypso AG-36 - History







Calypso AG-36 - History

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Soca, Trinidadian popular music that developed in the 1970s and is closely related to calypso. Used for dancing at Carnival and at fetes, soca emphasizes rhythmic energy and studio production—including synthesized sounds and electronically mixed ensemble effects—over storytelling, a quality more typical of calypso songs, which are performed for seated audiences.

The term soca (initially spelled sokah) was coined in the 1970s by Trinidadian musician Lord Shorty (Garfield Blackman), who sang calypso, a type of Afro-Trinidadian song style characterized by storytelling and verbal wit. According to Lord Shorty, the new music was meant to be a fusion of calypso with East Indian music, a reflection of Trinidad’s two dominant ethnic groups. Others, however, have explained the term soca as a contraction of “soul calypso,” emphasizing the music’s connection to African American and Trinidadian traditions.

Although soca is sometimes considered to be a subgenre of calypso—owing to the historical relation between the musics and their common association with Carnival—the two traditions differ in a number of notable respects. In practical terms, soca functions primarily as music for participatory singing and Carnival dancing, while calypso is more closely linked with performances for seated audiences in “tents” (indoor theatres). Indeed, the genre names calypso and soca formalize a distinction between tent and road (where Carnival dancers parade) that dates back to the 1910s, when singers first began to perform for paying audiences during the weeks leading up to Carnival.

Lord Shorty’s 1973 song “ Indrani” was one of the first songs to generate comments about the new genre of soca, comments that focused not just on musical style but also on the portrayal in song of an interracial love interest. “Indrani” used Indian-sounding melodies, Hindi words, and Indian instruments, including the dholak drum. Lord Shorty’s Endless Vibrations album in 1974, by contrast, clearly drew on soul (or rhythm-and-blues) music from the United States. By 1978, when the veteran calypsonian Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) jumped into the new genre with “Sugar Bum Bum,” it was clear that soca was neither a one-man style nor a passing fad.

Soca’s innovations, while on one level an expression of Trinidadian modernity, were on another level a response to the international success of reggae in the 1970s. Given soca’s international orientation, it is not surprising that non-Trinidadian singers also became involved with the music. In 1983 singer Arrow (Alphonsus Cassell), from Montserrat island in the Lesser Antilles, had a big soca hit with the song “Hot Hot Hot” even though as a foreigner he was not eligible to compete in Trinidad’s Carnival competitions. In the 1990s singer Alison Hinds, from Barbados, and her band Square One rose to international soca stardom, and they remained perennial performers at Carnival in Trinidad until they broke up in 2004.

Also in the 1990s, Trinidadian Super Blue (Austin Lyons) sang the most popular road march (song for Carnival dancing in the street) three years in a row, beginning with “Get Something and Wave” in 1991. With this song, Super Blue established a new model for Carnival music that featured a faster tempo, energetic rhythmic vocalizations, and lyrics that gave instructions to the dancers, such as “get something and wave,” “jump up,” “break away,” and “hands in the air.” Such lyrics came to constitute one of the most obvious differences between calypso and soca. Calypso songs for the tent privilege wordplay and message over danceability, and they have narrative texts in which a story unfolds across several verses. By contrast, soca songs are as important for their rhythmic drive, excitement, and physical impulse as they are for their verbal meanings moreover, they are usually built in short phrases, often presented in call-and-response form.

In addition to the lyrics, emphasis on synthesized sound and on studio production techniques distinguishes soca from calypso. Many of the electronic drum sounds, synthesized melodies, and studio effects that distinguish soca recordings cannot be reproduced in the calypso tent, where all of the singers are accompanied by the same house band. However, even on the road, top soca singers such as Super Blue, who perform with their own bands, cannot always precisely match the electronic sounds and studio effects used in their recordings. Soca songs are most often heard during Carnival in their recorded versions, played on sound systems with huge speakers, often mounted on moving flatbeds or “DJ trucks.” The power of low frequencies is particularly important to the aesthetic of soca, which features pounding bass lines that are felt as much as they are heard. (This technological and stylistic feature has certain parallels in American funk music and Jamaican dancehall.)

Sometimes particular rhythms are also cited as markers of soca style. For example, in a four-beat grouping, the kick drum (bass drum played with a foot-operated beater) and bass in soca tend to play a double stroke on the second and fourth beat of a four-beat grouping (if counted: one, two-and, three, four-and…), avoiding the on-beat bass of older calypso, which stresses beats one and three. Many contemporary calypso songs, however, also use this rhythm, which complicates the stylistic definition of soca.

Soca has since its inception displayed an exceptional openness to stylistic innovation. This openness has been reflected in such hybrids as chutney soca (chutney being an Indo-Trinidadian popular music) and ragga soca (soca fused with the Jamaican style dancehall), which developed in the 1990s. Mainstream soca artists such as Machel Montano have also innovated aggressively, especially in their studio production, which has boosted the studio recording industry in Trinidad.

Some soca musicians and fans have hoped that soca’s incorporation of new ideas and styles would help Trinidadian music reach international markets in the way that Jamaican reggae had done. In the early 21st century, soca remained somewhat at a disadvantage, however, because, unlike reggae and many other commercial musics, its style and marketing remained closely linked to the seasonal celebration of Carnival. Consequently, soca’s international dissemination has been linked to a broader effort by Trinidad’s government and business interests to market the Carnival concept and thereby generate work for Trinidadian singers, costume designers, and musicians at major Carnival celebrations in the Caribbean, Europe, and North America.

Calypso: 1930

The calypso in Trinidad and Tobago is mainly of African origin and can be traced to the traditions of West Africa. The African traditions of call and response and ring shout are clearly present in calypso. Brought to Trinidad by enslaved peoples, calypso (which was called a poor man’s newspaper in times when literacy was not wide spread) traces its roots to African traditions of improvised songs and storytelling. The slaves, brought to toil on sugar plantations, were stripped of all connections to their homeland, culture, and family and not allowed to talk to each other. They used calypso to communicate with each other and to mock the slave masters. Calypso ultimately evolved to become both a dance and cultural record of events. Early forms of calypso were also heavily influenced by jazz melodies such as “Sans Humanite,” the extempo melody in which calypsonians lyricize spontaneously, commenting on social issues or insulting each other.

The first calypso recordings came in 1914 and inaugurated the Golden Age of Calypso. By the 1920s, calypso tents were set up at carnivals for calypsonians to practice before competitions these have now become showcases for new music. The first major stars of calypso started crossing over to new audiences worldwide in the late 1930s. Attila the Hun, Roaring Lion and Lord Invader were first, followed by the great Lord Kitchener, one of the longest-lasting calypso stars in history.

Calypso music has been used by calypsonians to provide sociopolitical commentary. Prior to the independence of Trinidad and Tobago, calypsonians would use their music to express the daily struggles of living in Trinidad. 1 During the independence movements of Trinidad and Tobago from the early 1950s until 1962, calypso lyrics critiqued British colonial rule. Lyrics were made to express the common belief that colonialism was immoral and oppressive to Caribbean people. Calypso music would include common messages of freedom, anti-colonialism, and empowerment of African-descended people. 2

Lord Kitchener, in particular, became known for the politically critical lyrics in his music. Kitchener used calypso to shed light on the grievances of a generation of Caribbean families migrating from the islands to England in response to increased labor demands after World War II. 3

1944’s “Rum and Coca-Cola” by the Andrews Sisters, a cover of a Lord Invader song, became an American hit. Calypso became a worldwide craze with the release of the “Banana Boat Song,” a traditional Jamaican folk song, whose best-known rendition was done by Harry Belafonte on his 1956 album Calypso—the first full-length record to sell more than a million copies. 1956 also saw the massive international hit Jean and Dinah by Mighty Sparrow.

Great calypso artists include David Rudder, the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, the Mighty Gabby, Calypso Rose, Grynner, Explainer, Ras Shorty-I, Arrow, and Andre Tanker.

Our Standards Are the Difference

The Calypso team pays meticulous attention throughout each step of the process to ensure our products exceed industry expectations. Hand-tending each and every plant provides a level of care that translates into better products.

We take our time with an extended drying process, monitoring our plants to produce a superior product.

We recognize and acknowledge our responsibility to our community, employees, and customers. That’s why we continue to build our Calypso Cares program through community service, sustainable processes, and promoting equality at all levels of our company.

California Department of Food and Agriculture: 97 Years Protecting and Promoting Agriculture in the Golden State

Agriculture is a major industry for the Golden State. With 76,400 farms and ranches, California agriculture is a $54 billion dollar industry that generates at least $100 billion in related economic activity. [CDFA's Mission]

This enormous achievement is possible through a combination of tradition and innovation that has secured California's status as the most productive agricultural state for more than 50 years. Farmers and ranchers blend old-fashioned notions of patience and perseverance with cutting-edge technologies and advanced agricultural practices. The result is a highly adaptable and diverse industry encompassing more than 350 plant and animal commodities.

In 1919, the California Legislature created a single department responsible for protecting and promoting agriculture. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is now organized into five divisions. The department operates at more than 100 locations throughout the state. These divisions provide valuable services to producers, merchants and the public. Many of the functions are conducted in partnership with local county offices of the agricultural commissioners and sealers.

California's agricultural abundance is a reflection of the people who made the Golden State their home. In the process, they brought their agricultural heritage with them. Early California farmers and ranchers were the Spanish missionaries, followed by Mexicans, Japanese, Chinese and Russians. Today, nearly every nationality is represented in California agriculture.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture strives to support this tradition of innovation and agricultural diversity by working with private industry, academia and public sector agencies. These partnerships allow the department to adapt public policy to a rapidly changing industry - California agriculture.

What is Calypso Music? History, Influence, Popular Artists, and More!

Every type of music has its origins in some country or other. Calypso music is a type of traditional music whose roots are found in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

It is a type of music that has tropical rhythms, beats, and lyrics, which are associated with issues such as social injustice, slavery, and politics.

Since its development and spread throughout other countries, it has influenced other musical genres such as reggae, soul calypso (soca), and jazz.

The word “calypso” refers at once to Kalypso, a sea nymph from Greek mythology who lived on the island of Ogygia, and tried to make Odysseus her husband over a period of 7 years. “Calypso” also refers to the Calypso Bulbosa flower, also called the Venus Slipper.

As it pertains to the music itself, some think that “calypso” was used to describe a dance seen in the 1800’s.

Regardless of the origins of the word, calypso music is a celebratory genre of music that expresses a lot of joy, despite its darker origins.

Take a listen to these party classics by one of calypso’s musical kings, Might Sparrow, to get a feel for the musical style if you are not already familiar with it. Or, if you are, you know that Mighty Sparrow is always something good to throw on the record player!

Calypso Music History

Calypso music first came about in Trinidad and Tobago, as a result of mass migration of people from different parts of the world.

In the late 19th and 20th century, there were large numbers of people coming to Trinidad and Tobago from regions such as India, Africa, and other parts of Asia. These people were then used in the slave trade by the French, Spanish, and British immigrants.

Since the slaves were form different regions, cultures, and spoke different languages, they could not always communicate with each other, while at the same time mocking their slave masters. It is even believed that these slaves were not allowed to communicate.

As a result, they used music to communicate more often than words, which eventually turned into the style known as calypso.

With the change of different masters and slaves over time, traditional musical instruments from Britain and Africa were played on songs from France and Spain. This also contributed to the development of calypso music.

Clearly, this melange of cultures and some of the dire conditions around its inception contributed to the high energy that coursed through the music, and still does to this day. In a way, this is rebel music, representing the indomitable spirit of these people.

Evolution and Popularization

In the 1930’s, this music became well-known in other regions of American and European colonies. It is believed that the first ever calypso music was recorded by Lovey’s String Band in 1912.

Luckily, the Recording Industry Association of Trinidad and Tobago has uncovered ‘Mango Vert’, the first recording by this amazing pioneering calypso band from 1912.

Instruments Used

Typically, calypso music includes sounds from traditional instruments. However, many modern instruments with traditional sounds are often used these days with computers having that ability to replicate some of these sounds.

In the past, slaves produced this music from steel drum which were made from oil drums used in World War II. Steel drums of today are played using rubber mallets. They are used for the main rhythm of the music.

The rhythm section also consists of instruments such as tambourines, congas, and bongos. The number of players of these instruments are chosen according to the musical setup.

Around the World

With the proliferation and popularization of the genre, calypso influences can now be found almost everywhere all over the world. Even in places you might not expect, such as Canada.

For Canada’s 150th birthday party in 2017, here we have a full-on steel drum band as part of the celebration parade. That should tell you something of calypso’s reach. Steel pan bands like this one, Panwaves, isn’t strictly calypso, but they are basically strongly tied to the genre, since they are using the steelpan, a prominent instrument of the genre.

Steel drum orchestras of the 21st century use modern equipment and instruments in calypso music. The brass section usually comprises a trumpet, trombone, saxophone, flute, and other instruments.


The lyrics of traditional calypso music largely focus on the slavery and cruelty of masters. However, these days people just want to party as times have drastically for the better of all.

Variations of the Genre

There are some other music genres that go well with the aspects of calypso. Such music types include reggae and soca. Nowadays, we would mostly get to listen to soca, which is a modern variation of traditional calypso. It includes an uptempo rhythm with simple lyrics.

Popular Musicians

  • Ajamu
  • Alison Hinds
  • Black Stalin
  • Thе Jolly Boys
  • David Rudder
  • Thе Mighty Sparrow
  • Chalkdust
  • Destra Garcia
  • Maximus Dan
  • Cro Cro
  • Bunji Garlin
  • Thе Mighty Duke
  • Roaring Lion
  • Thе Nutmeg Band
  • Thе Mighty Shadow
  • Calypso Rose

Listening to the songs of these artists will give you an idea about what calypso music is all about. Its historical significance cannot be overlooked either.

There are some calypso music online radio channels which you can tune into for listening to some great calypso tunes.

History [ edit | edit source ]

In the days of myth and legend, the beautiful Calypso, daughter of Atlas, ruled the wine-dark seas, and all sailors everywhere both loved and feared her.

But because she too had mortal blood, Calypso fell in love with a young sailor, named Davy Jones. And she rewarded that love by giving Davy Jones the sacred task of collecting all the poor souls who died at sea, and ferrying them to the worlds beyond.

Now, because of that love, Davy Jones agreed to set foot on dry land once every ten years. And if this love was true to him, his task would be complete, and a new Captain of the Dutchman would be found.

But whenever Davy Jones came ashore, Calypso was nowhere to be found, for the seas are fickle and unpredictable, as was the powerful goddess who ruled that domain.

So, when the men of the sea - the Pirate Brethren - convened a great Conclave, Davy Jones plotted with them to tear the rule of the seas away from Calypso. With his help, the Brethren tricked the goddess and imprisoned her into the body of a mortal woman.

Soon Davy Jones' grief and guilt at what he had done became so great, he ripped his own heart - a heart that had betrayed him - right out of his chest, and locked it away. He then returned to the seven seas only now sailors everywhere would fear him to the death, for Davy Jones had turned fierce and cruel, with an insatiable taste for all things brutal.

But then an ambitious mortal, who himself wished to rule the seas, came into possession of the hidden beating heart of Davy Jones. And this mortal knew that he could use that heart to make Davy Jones do his bidding.

Soon an ancient and horrible creature of the darkest deep - known as the Kraken - appeared upon those seas. And this terrible beast brought the master of the Flying Dutchman ever more souls onto his cursed ship, dead sailors forever impressed into servitude.

Now those Pirate Lords grew ever more fearful. But when they convened again, they only argued and fought among themselves, so afraid were they of Calypso's anger at their treachery.

But one of the brethren did not wait for agreement. Tricked by the goddess herself, he took all the tokens of their betrayal, the powerful items that had imprisoned Calypso. and he then undid the spell that bound her to mortal flesh. Now the goddess was free - and her wrath indeed became horrible to behold, and even worse to experience.

The enraged goddess Calypso gathered the waters of the ocean around herself in a giant whirlpool - a massive maelstrom - and a battle raged at the center of it. And it was in that very battle that Davy Jones' heart was pierced and he died, finally free for all eternity.

With his death, Davy Jones was welcomed back into the dark embrace of the seas for Calypso in her own way still loved him. And his ship, the Flying Dutchman, received a new captain, and all was as it was meant to be. Ώ]


In 1974, John Denver was invited to sail with Jacques Cousteau aboard the famed oceanographer's boat Calypso. Denver said, “The first few moments I had on my own, I was walking around the deck of the ship and in the time it takes to sing it—Aye, Calypso, the places you've been to, the things that you've shown us, the stories you tell—I had the chorus of the song.”

While the chorus came easily, Denver struggled for months to find the verses for the song. One day, in frustration, he gave up and went skiing. After three runs down the mountain, he felt a creative tension building and raced home. In another burst of creativity, the verses poured out in a flood.

Recorded with a full orchestra, “Calypso” is a rousing sea shanty-style ballad with splashes of yodeling and cinematic flourishes. Originally released as a B-side to Denver's single “I'm Sorry,” it soon gained its own momentum on radio and ended up as a #2 hit.

Here's Denver talking about the song, along with a video that incorporates undersea footage from Cousteau:

The History

Built in 1941, the vessel that became Calypso was originally called BYMS-26, a wooden-hulled minesweeper for the British Royal Navy. Launched in 1942, she saw active duty in the Mediterranean Sea through World War II, before being struck from the Naval Register in 1947.

After the war, she was renamed Calypso, for a sea nymph from Homer's Odyssey. For the next three years, she ferried tourists and locals between Malta and the island of Gozo. In 1950, Calypso was purchased by an Irish millionaire named Thomas Guinness, who in turn leased it to Jacques Cousteau for the symbolic fee of one franc a year. Guinness wanted to see the boat used for oceanographic research and conservation. And as a condition of the deal, he asked that Cousteau never reveal his identity. It wasn't until after Cousteau's death in 1997 that Guinness's name came out.

Diver Down

While the boat that became Calypso had been sweeping for mines during the war, lifelong ocean lover and former French navy man Jacques-Yves Cousteau was forging his career as the century's most renowned mariner. In 1943, he won the Congress of Documentary Film top prize for the first French underwater film,18 Meters Deep. The same year, he shot another movie, Shipwrecks, in which he helped design and test the first Aqua-Lung, the prototype of the SCUBA tank (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) that became the standard for all deep sea divers. Cousteau also went on to develop such innovations as the underwater scooter, the diving saucer, and “Conshelf,” an underwater research base. For the duration of WWII, he worked with the French Navy both as an undercover agent assembling commando missions against the Axis forces and helping to rescue sunken vessels.

The Undersea World

In 1950, after leasing the Calypso from Guinness, Cousteau refitted the boat as a mobile laboratory and it became the home for his deep sea adventures over the next thirty years.

While he captured the imagination of millions with his books, short films, an Academy award-winning documentary and a classic TV series (which aired from 1966 to 1976), Cousteau's achievements ran even deeper. He played a big part in stopping the dumping of radioactive waste in the ocean, helped refine ideas about porpoises and their echolocation sonar abilities, and was one of the first to explore the waters of Antarctica. But his most lasting contribution was to reveal the splendor of the undersea world with a wide-eyed wonder, while raising awareness of ocean ecology and conservation. Long before it was a fashionable cause, Cousteau was enlightening us about the interconnectivity of species and environmental issues.

In 1996, Calypso was accidentally rammed by a barge and sunk in the port of Singapore. The boat was raised and towed to Marseille, France. After Cousteau's death in 1997, there were years of legal battles over the boat's ownership between his family and members of the Guinness family.

Finally, in 2010, a new Calypso was relaunched by the Cousteau Society as a touring educational exhibition.

Trinidad Society In The 1930’s and 1940’s

It may be a challenge for a young Trinbagonian to actually envisage Trinidad society in the early part of the last century, not to mention the entertainment side of things. Today’s high tech Internet, iPhones, computers, software, electric guitars, planes, cars, trains and even space technology has changed the face of the planet and Trinidad is no exception.

But back then there was no television nor Internet there were no recording facilities or local radio stations. In fact if I am not mistaken, Trinidad got its first local radio station with the mass arrival of US soldiers during World War II. Prior to that, those who had a powerful radio apparatus could tune into international broadcasting from England, USA and South America etc. A gramophone (pictured below) was a luxury for those who could afford it, and you still had to purchase your records, which were mainly produced in Europe, the United States and South America.

Public announcement loudspeakers, were hung up at strategic places, mainly in populated areas so that the Colonial Government could communicate with its subjects. Silent films with subtitles were just going out of vogue and a Donkey cart was a normal mode of transportation for goods and people. Raleigh bikes were status symbols, and you could have attracted a lot of attention from ladies if you had a backseat where she could sit. Of course, public transportation like tramcars, trains, buses or cars were things that belonged to the larger more urbanized areas, and whether one could afford the fee was another question. Lord Beginner & Atilla sing about Trinidad’s urban development in their song from the 1930: “I’ere Now And Long Ago”

In 1930, Trinidad was still to a great extent, a plantation-based society.

In the villages across the island French Patois was widely spoken and in some cases, only Patois. Though English was the official language not everyone spoke it fluently. There were also East Indian enclaves where Hindi was still a dominant influence. Up until 1900, most calypsos were sung in French Patois, but by 1930, English was the chosen language of the artist. Here is a calypso sang in patois:

Social Rejection of Calypso

Calypsonians had a long history of rejection by society in many forms and fashions. Despite these attitudes, it is still fair to say that by 1930 there was growing support from a cross section of society, especially the business community. This business interest together with a new crop of very talented calypsonians were key factors in the development and success of the calypso during the period between 1934 and 1950. This period is known as the “Golden Age Of Calypso” and is characterized by the development of facilities like the “Calypso Tent”, professionalization of calypsonians, access to recording facilities and business sponsorship for local and international promotion of the art form. World war 2 and the huge American GI’s presents in Trinidad were also significant factors in the development of the industry.

Lets hear what Lion himself had to say on this matter of social rejection: “Between 1840 and 1930 both the calypsonian and calypso were completely resented by all and sundry. Calypsonians were ostracised and “excommunicated” from every class of society, especially from the lower and upper middle class. These were the ones that resented, hated and despised the art and the artiste. The elites were a bit more tolerant. In fact they were the ones who came to the rescue of the calypso.

But the other two classes were adamant. They warned their children about talking to a calypsonian as though he was a criminal. They didn’t even want to live near to him. They flogged their children for singing calypsos or (for) even humming the melody. Yes, it was as bad as that.

So the only two groups of people that sympathised with the movement were those who lived in abject poverty, or the well‑to‑do (who enjoyed calypso) in a standoffish manner, so as to avoid being branded a disciple of the cult.

In spite of this stigma, the elites, nevertheless, began to invite the calypsonians from time to time to their homes as entertainers. By 1934 it became commonplace for calypsonians to be socialising with the aristocrats, even though they were invited as entertainers.” ( Lion’s manuscript )

Calypso Pioneers

In March 1934, Eduardo Sa Gomes the Trinidad agent for Brunswick Records sent Lion and Atilla the Hun to record in New York City. This event was one of the defining moments in calypso history. While Belasco and Houdini and others had recorded calypsos before in the USA, this was the first trip for calypsonians based in Trinidad to travel to New York on contract to record, and their success proved to be the start of a series of annual trips by select calypsonians. Within the next ten years, artistes like Executor, Tiger, Caresser, Invader, Growler, Beginner, 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.) Here is a link to Atilla & Lion describing their trip to the US in 1934.

Depression & Sedition Laws

The “Great Depression” of the 1930’s brought adverse times to Trinidad and Tobago. Phenomenally high levels of unemployment, poverty, anti-colonial sentiment, civil and labour 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 and the law was enforced.

Police patrolled the tents and other venues, and whenever an officer deemed their lyrics dubious, improper, immoral or seditious they would remove the singer from the stage. Attila, Lion, Tiger, King Radio, King Pharaoh, Executor, Pretender, Lord Butternut, Kitchener and others were subjected to this arbitrary harassment and arrests.

In addition to this on the spot vigilance, the authorities demanded that they “vet” all lyrics before any record was cleared by customs. If this demand was not met, one risked the authorities seizing or destroying their records on arrival. Often singers would apply in advance before recording.

In 1937, the Commissioner of Police and Customs, dumped the entire shipment of Lion’s Netty Netty records in Port of Spain Harbor on the grounds of ‘immorality. “Sally Water” was also banned both songs were deemed improper and immoral. Netty Netty’s refrain, “Give me the thing you got in your belly” was considered lewd, and “Sally Sally water sprinkled in a saucer” was a bit too much for the authorities of the day. According to Lion: “If they banned that, then what would they do today?” (Manuscript). Here is a YouTube link to the original recording of Netty Netty in 1937.

Let King Radio enlightens you about the “Sedition Law” of his era in a calypso called “They Want to License my Mouth”. Here is the link to King Radio’s calypso,

World War II & American GI’s land in Trinidad

Carnival was banned between 1942 -1945, but entertainment thrived throughout the island and so did calypso. In 1941 there were two US bases in T&T and approximately 2-3000 soldiers based here. Japan bombed Perl Habour in December 1941 and at that point America entered the War. The German’s U-boat war was thus widened to the East Atlantic and the Caribbean. The American’s deployed significant forces to the Caribbean region Trinidad included. By late 1942 there were about 225 bases and 135000 Americans stationed in T&T. Our population then was ca. 430000 of which about 100000 were children. This was a significant 1 to 3 adult ratio, and of course the presence had an immediate and long term impact.

These soldiers who were earmarked for combat had an insatiable appitite for entertainment of all veriety. This new, receptive and massive audience turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the entire entertainment industry, calypsonians included. They were in great demand, they sang at the US bases, theaters, Cinemas, Bar, parties etc. Besides boosting the calypso industriy locally the GI’s exposure to calypso assisted in popularizing it in the USA, as in the case of the historic “Rum & Coca Cola” by Lord Invader. Here is the original version of this song by Lord Invader –

This is a link to the Andrew Sister’s version:

Trinidad & Tobago and the Caribbean played a very significant role during World War 2 and one can perhaps ask what role was that? And, if I say that we actually contributed to winning the battle of the Atlantic, a battle no side could afford to lose. I remember reading somewhere that perhaps the three most significant and decisive battles of all the theaters during WW2 was El Alamein in Egypt , Stalin Grad and the Battle Of The Atlantic. Which ever side lost one of these battles would inevitable lose the war. Kindly listen to this interview with the curator of the Chaguaramas Military Museum, he can perhaps convince you better than I can.

Calypso goes global

In 1930’s, calypso was more or less unknown beyond the borders of La Trinity. Calypsonians took it from Trinidad through the Caribbean and then on to the cosmopolitan cities of the USA and Canada. There it was recycled and adapted to a US market. Several of the songs that were recorded by local calypsonians between 1934 & 1950 have been covered or sampled by top international artists. (Songs like, Love Alone(Lord Caresser), Ugly Woman(Lion), Matilda(King Radio) Roosevely In Trinidad(Atilla) Out The Fire (Lion), Monkey(Tiger/Lion/Beginner), Rum And Coca Cola(Lord Invader) Maryann(Lion) He Come From The Glory(Lion) and I can continue.) They have been played in movies and even reached the number one spot on the Billboard Chart and RnB charts years later.

Calypso became a craze in the USA, calypso was vouge and fashion, clothes, hats etc. This Calypso craze came to its climax internationally with Harry Belafonte in ca.1956. Belafonte’s album called, Calypso, reached number 1 on the Billboard album chart, and it was the first album to ever sell a million copies in a year.

(One can always discuss whether Belafonte’s Calypso album was all calypso) but regardless the album was a milestone accomplishment not only for calypso as a genre, but also for the recording industry in the USA. Link to Harry Belafonte –

Nation Builders

By 1945, Calypsonians had put calypso and by extension Trinidad on the world map. But by doing so they also helped forge our cultural identity and sense of self. These pioneers have definitely contributed to the nation-building process of our twin islands, and that is priceless.

Today most Trinbagonians identify, in some form or fashion, with calypso, soca, chutney soca, carnival and pan, especially if we migrate. How does one measure these contributions in dollars & cents? Kindly try to define a Trinibagonian and see if you can leave out the word calypso or pan?

It is with this 1930’s social, political, economic and technical backdrop, that one must analyze the amazing achievements of the Golden Age calypsonians. To conclude, it should be fitting with a couple lines from the 1998 Calypso Monarch winning song “Beneath the Surface”by Mystic Prowler.

They had the stuff that great men are made of

It’s the stuff you can miss unless you look beneath the surface

Here is the link to Mystic Prowler “Beneath The Surface”

Watch the video: Calypso Multimedia History Project