The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962-1987

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Press University of the West Indies, 1999 - Music - 277 pages

"A significant contribution to the field of calypso studies. . . . Few published works have taken this extensive a look at the political calypsos and what informs them."--Keith Q. Warner, George Mason University, author of Kaiso! The Trinidad Calypso

Calypso, a traditional form of music in the Caribbean, began in Trinidad and Tobago as a subtle protest against British rule. Influenced by African and native Caribbean rhythms, the calypso (along with Jamaican reggae) defines the music of the region. Louis Regis examines the evolution of the political calypso from 1962 to 1987, the period of Trinidad/Tobago's independence from Britain, and presents the text of lyrics from this popular folk-urban musical form.
Following the songs and their themes chronologically from 1962 forward, Regis discovers the social history, cultural attitudes, and political commentary embedded within the music. He discusses the uneasy alliance between the performer and the politician, the political moods and postures emphasized in the songs, and the national identity of the calypso.
Drawing upon voluminous research, Regis's study brings to light little-known and unrecorded songs. With a concluding chapter on the calypso's artistic and performance elements, it will appeal both to specialists in ethnomusicology and to general readers who enjoy the calypso.

Louis Regis, the author of Maestro: The True Master and Black Stalin: The Caribbean Man, is one of the West Indies' foremost authorities on the calypso. He teaches at Pleasantville Senior Comprehensive School in Trinidad.

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Louis Regis takes a look at political calypsos and by extension political calypsonians. He identifies the political agenda of the various artistes and examines the lyrics of their songs to dramatize the effect and importance of the political calypso as a potent political force. Even though the focus is narrow, the work is useful and informative and fills a void given the nature of the artform and the paucity of writings on the particular subject matter. This work is extremely useful to any research done on calypso, calypso tents and calypsonians. 

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About the author (1999)

Louis Regis teaches at Pleasantville Senior Comprehensive School in Trinidad.

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