A Bit Of History

The songs and music were the backbone of masquerade. The mimicry and ridicule of the costumes were matched by the satire of the songs. The words were full of double meaning and innuendo. The calypsonians have carried on the tradition by disguising the true meaning of the lyrics.

The calypso has become, since the 1950’s the source of street music at Carnival time. It is part of the Caribbean creole mix with its home base being Trinidad. Although it has much the same roots as the folk songs of the Windward and Leeward Islands, it owes allot more to the Spanish influence of Venezuela. Like the Samba of Brazil and the Rhumba of Cuba, the Calypso beat is much more that of Afro-Latin America than are the folksongs of the eastern islands.


In Dominica, Calypsonians were appearing on stage at variety shows by 1946. By the end of the 1950’s calypso shows were formerly part of Carnival celebrations. In the following decade the calypsonians and his “road march” became the strongest force in Carnival so that today the success of each year depends heavily on their contributions.

An Association to manage the business of Calypso was formed in the 70’s with an executive body which ran their shows and tents for some time. The organizing of the calypso show was later taken over and ran by the then Carnival Organizing Committee, but out of protest in 1978, the Dominica Calypso Association was revived and up to this date is being run by the calypsonians.




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