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The word "Calypso" generally brings to mind the sugary sounds made popular in 1950s by star entertainers such as the Andrew Sister,Harry Belafonte, the actor Robert Mitchum and french singer Henry Savaldor.
Calypso is "ethnic music",as people once qualified any kind of music whose only shered of commonality seemed to be its inconsequentialy,harmlessness and slightly exotic feel.Don't be fooled! calypso may be the booming and festive soundtrack of the Trinidad Carnaval,but it is also a powerful vehicle that conveys the thoughts of local storytellers,griots,troubadours and minestrels: the "chantwells" asthey are known in Trinidad, the singers of Calypsos.
Unparalleled improvisers with lightening- fast minds, Calypsonians have sung about love - body and soul. Never lacking in witticism or verbal dexterity, they have sketched vocal portraits of their fellowmen and women woth humour and tenderness.
Stubbornly resisting all forms of censure,they have mocked the powerful,elevating satire and double entente to the level of a fine art ! calypso is a secular tradition that has taken on various guises throughout the years.The instrumentation, the harmonics, the rhythms, the length of the verses and even the language have all evolved. Like a reggae or the cuban son, calypso is a mirrror held up to caribbean siciety,sustaining its vital pulse and its soul.
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