Calypso is a genre of music that is Caribbean. The History of Calypso is very interesting, and language plays a very important part in this music. The music is influence by all aspects in society – political, economical, social, and cultural. Calypso began in the mid-19th century with roots from the African slaves and the French planters. It was originally sung in patois (French creole) and later in English as English became the official language of the country. The early calypsonians were considered like royalty as it is reflect in their names.
“Your calypso name is given to you by your peers, based on your style. In the old days they tried to emulate British royalty. There was Lord Kitchener, Lord Nelson, Duke. When I started singing, the bands were still using acoustic instruments and the singers would stand flat footed, making a point or accusing someone in the crowd with the pointing of a finger, but mostly they stood motionless. When I sing, I get excited and move around, much like James Brown, and this was new to them. The older singers said “Why don’t you just sing instead of moving around like a little Sparrow.” It was said as a joke, but the name stuck.” — Mighty Sparrow
Teaching with calypso
Today, there are a large number of songs within the Calypso genre. They can be used as a tool for teaching and learning. Children learn by songs very well, and calypso has been overlook for far too long by teachers within the Caribbean. Calypso is part of the culture of the islands; and we should not shy away from making it part of a teaching aid. This idea was most supported by Leonid Francis; and to his pleasure the Ministry of Education acknowledged and sponsored a workshop where Mr. Francis was able to explain to other teachers how this can be done.
Many calypso songs cover a wide variety of subject topics – from Language Arts to History and Social Studies. Most likely, this is one way the young generation can develop an appreciation for their culture; and encourage their participation in the many aspects of their culture. I find Mr. Francis idea brilliant. Thus, we have selected a number of songs we believe could help teachers accomplish their teaching goals.
The following are 16 songs that can help teachers teach various topics. There are countless others and perhaps over time we might build on this list.
Bring Back The Old Time Days – Nappy Mayers
Jean and Dinah – Mighty Sparrow
Federation – Mighty Sparrow
Portrait of Trinidad – Mighty Sniper
Journey – Tambu
Trinidad, The Land of Calypso – Roaring Lion
King Liar – Lord Nelson
Feel to Party – Black Stalin
Plant the Land – Lord Shorty
Last Train – Duke of Iron
Far From Home – Calypso Rose
The Hammer – David Rudder
Love Thy Neighbour – Roaring Lion
Sir Garfield Sober – Mighty Sparrow
Sip and Chat – Lord Relator
Don’t Cry For Me – Denyse Plummer