Calypso can be compared to the blues of the deep south during slavery. It was used as the way to ease the woes of the oppressed and as a means of communication amongst slaves.

In the early days, when Trinidad was colonized by the Spanish and French, Calypso, though not quite as communicative because of the language barriers, served as the verbal means of consolation to the slaves. It was not until the English defeated the Spanish in the Battle for the Island that Calypso assumed its magnitude, since everybody now spoke this new language. Gaining more ground as news-carriers and town criers the Calypsonian was respected and revered. Whatever news they brought through their lyrics was the gospel. Calypso turned out to be an excellent tool used to spread social and political commentary. The music used to accompany these lyrics is heavily influenced by the African drum. Today, Calypso maintains its informative stance and has evolved to cater to the dance hall crowd.

Some modern-day Calypsonians still provide old time Calypso in terms of the lyrical content to the uptempo beats of today. The oldtimers like Executor, Growler, Houdini, and Spoiler all provided informative listening entertainment. Calypso of today is dance music. Thanks to the Mighty Sparrow, the Lord Kitchener, the Black Stalin, David Rudder to name a few, we still have traditional Calypsoes fused with dance hall music.

Calypso is the music used to create the rhythms of Carnival in the Caribbean, Carnival in Rio, Labor Day in Brooklyn, The Caribbean American Family Day Festival in The Bronx, New York, Caribana in Toronto, Miami Carnival, Boston Carnival, Atlanta Carnival, Caribbean Carnival Tallahassee and a host of other cities all over the world.


For those new to this music, a good starting point is in the name itself. "Soca" is the rhythmical fusion of Soul and Calypso. It's geographical origin is Trinidad and Tobago and its inspiration has always been those islands pre-Lenten carnival celebrations. The importance of lyrics laced with social commentary and double entendre has been a prominent characteristic since its forerunner the steel drum calypso right through to the current dance style "Ring Bang". The ever infectious Soca music has now evolved into the definitive indigenous musical form of the Eastern Caribbean. The music is part of the vibrant Caribbean culture that has spread through emigration and has now established itself as far afield as North America and Europe.


Ska is, first and foremost, dance music. Ska was a Jamaican dance music that swept out of Jamaica in the early 1960's to shake
the butts of working- and middle-class Jamaicans before going on, via the West Indian immigrant connection, to the UK, and then on to the world. In the UK, ska was also known as blue beat music. Rocksteady, and later, reggae sprang from the loins of ska in the late 1960's. Mid-1970's and 1980's/1990's revivals of this popular dance form have kept this music alive and fun through the present. The ska beat on drums and bass, rhythm guitar, lots of horns and maybe a Farfisa or Hammond organ --- that's the ska sound.

Ska was not recently invented by ska-influenced bands like No Doubt, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish or any other 90's band. Ska is a forty-year-old music form now in a fresh, vigorous 3rd Wave. Ska is rich in history, broad in scope and guaranteed to make you shake your groove thang. For the musically inclined, here is a description of the rhythmic structure of ska: 

Musically, Ska is a fusion of Jamaican mento rhythm with R&B;, with the drum coming in on the 2nd and 4th beats, and the guitar emphasizing the up of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th beats. The drum therefore is carrying the blues and swing beats of the American music, and the guitar expressing the mento sound.


Reggae music is an offshoot of ska that developed in the late 1960s. Reggae was developed out of rocksteady music, a music developed by early ska vocalists (e.g. Laurel Aitken, Derrick Morgan, Desmond Dekker) as audiences demanded a more steady beat [TKS] and perhaps less all-instrumental music. Note that many reggae stars got their start as ska musicians. Notable examples are Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Rita Marley Anderson, Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker. As the fast beat of ska mellowed through rocksteady, it gradually led to the creation of reggae.

The transition from rock steady to reggae was, like the transition from ska to rock steady, an impreceptible process which was both a response to and a reflection of the changing social conditions of the society. Where rock steady had the legacy of singing the sex and romance songs of Jackie Opel and Lord Creator, reggae laid emphasis on Africa, black deliverance and redemption."
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