What is Barbados Music?
The music of Barbados is a synthesis of diverse styles and influences, most notably of British and African origins, that include folk, Western classical, religious and popular music. The culture of Barbados is a syncretic mix of African and British elements, and the island’s music reflects this mix through song types and styles, instrumentation, dances, and aesthetic principles.
At any time in Barbados you’re certain to hear a distinctive soundtrack of musical styles. From Barbadian folk melodies, Caribbean jazz and opera to the undulating rhythms of calypso, spouge and soca, music has always played an integral part in the history and culture of the island and continues to be an essential ingredient in the daily lives of every Barbadian.
Music History and Influence
Barbadian folk traditions include the Landship movement, which is a satirical, informal organization based on the British navy, tea meetings, tuk bands and numerous traditional songs and dances. Tuk bands consisting of a bow-fiddle or pennywhistle flute, kittle triangle and a snare and double-headed bass drum, modern tuk ensembles offer a distinctly Barbadian blend of African and British music.
Calypso was the first popular music in Barbados, and dates back to the 1930s. Barbadian calypso is a comedic song form, accompanied by guitar and banjo. More recent styles of calypso have also kept a local scene alive, and produced a number of famous calypsonians.
Spouge is a mixture of calypso and other styles, especially ska, and became very popular in the 1960s, around the same time as the Barbadian jazz scene grew in stature and became home to a number of famous performers.
Modern Barbadian popular music is largely based around reggae, ragga and soca, and includes some elements of indigenous styles. Artists like Terencia Coward have used modern popular music with instrumentation borrowed from folk tuk bands. Two of the more popular bands of Barbadian popular music are Krosfyah and Square One [now defunct]; the new wave of singers, largely soca, include Rupee, Lil’ Rick and Jabae with lead vocalist Bruce and Barry Chandler, all recent winners at Crop Over.
A more experimental artist such as poet and fiction writer Anthony Kellman writes thoughtful poetic lyrics delivered in a musical style deeply rooted in Barbadian indigenous folk music with strong elements of African and Latin influences. His albums Wings of a Stranger,Limestone, and Blood Mates have been described as groundbreaking due to his highly original style.
Barbados Great Musical Artists
Barbados has produced few internationally popular musicians, with worldwide pop superstar Rihanna being the most famous. It has however created a well-developed local scene playing imported styles like American jazz and calypso, as well as the indigenous spouge style.
- Anthony “Mighty Gabby” – musician and cultural ambassador
- Rihanna, Robyn Fenty – musician and cultural ambassador
- Shontelle – musician
- Livvi Franc – musician
- Jaicko – musician
- Vita Chambers – musician
- Rupert “Rupee” Clarke -musician
- Mighty Grynner – musician and cultural ambassador
- Alison Hinds – musician
- Hal Linton – musician
- Zeeteah Massiah – musician
- Jackie Opel – musician
- Rayvon – musician
- Red Plastic Bag – musician
- Arturo Tappin – musician
- Irving Louis Burgie – composer
- The Draytons Two – musician
- Spice and Company – musician
- and the list goes on….
Popular Barbadian Bands:
- Cover Drive
- Two Mile Hill (NexCyx)
- Philip 7