A Room With a Tune Whenever it is you choose to visit Barbados, you won’t escape the music. It’s a pulsating thread running through the island’s tapestry. Blasting out of mini vans, bars and cars, you can’t miss it. In celebration of this part of our culture, each of the hundred-plus rooms at Coconut Court is assigned a song of its own, drawn not just from Barbados, but from across the Caribbean. Today we’re looking at three Coconut Court room songs written by or featuring Bajans.
Barbados is famous for its calypso – also known today in its most recent form as Soca. While it may not be fair to describe calypso as a call to arms, much of it is definitely a form of social protest. None was so popular and so vocal as the Mighty Gabby, who is still a force in Barbados today. He’s now a cultural ambassador for the island but his songs have fired more than the occasional warning shot across the bow of the authorities in the past. Boots – Room 39 With Boots in 1983, Gabby (aka Anthony Carter) questioned whether a small island like Barbados really needed an army when there was so much poverty. It was a dig at the prime minister of the day Tom Adams, and consequently banned for a while from the airwaves.
Can we afford to feed that army? When so many children go naked and hungry No, no, no, no Can we afford to remain passive? While that army grow so massive No, no, no, no Well don’t tell me Tell Tommy, he put them in St Lucy…
Ragga Ragga: Room 17 The Crop Over Festival in August each year marks the highlight of the musical calendar. It’s well worth a visit to the island just to take part in the celebrations. Singers compete for title The Calypso Monarch in the months leading up to the main event.
Red Plastic Bag Red Plastic Bag, also known as Stedson Wiltshire, has won it 10 times and is still performing around the island. His song Ragga Ragga is infectious. It mocks grandparents who complain about a new, loud and unintelligible music (sound familiar?). How de hell they sing like dat and don't bite a hole in dey tongue? Beautiful Barbados - Room 11 And no tale about Bajan music would be complete without The Merrymen, perhaps the most famous of all Barbados calypsonians. They performed at the Superbowl in Miami, at The Whitehouse before a president and for British royalty. The song Beautiful Barbados is a classic and virtually the island’s second national anthem. So next time you check in, check out the tune in your room.