Kaiso, What Sweeter Than Dat?

There’s nothing sweeter than dat!

Well, that’s according to the fans of Kaiso, a name which has evolved into what we know today as ‘calypso’. When that kind of music genre is delivered in a theatre, which is known today as ‘calypso tents’, in front of people of Caribbean and African descent, they cannot sit still.

And if the storyteller, meaning the calypsonian, is good at his craft, in that he/she could deliver a good piece of this Afro-Caribbean genre of music, then in that moment, his/her status is elevated as his/her listeners treat him/her like royalty.

We are smack dab in what we call ‘the calypso season’ as lovers of the music genre flock to the calypso tents, eager to hear the social commentaries from the story tellers for the night. And so far, what we have been hearing, and the commentaries coming from those more versed in the art form than us, this year’s kaisos are just as sweet as those sang in years gone by.

We have visited some of the tents since the season started, and are happy to report that this year’s tents have continued with the traditions of old, in that they nurture a brotherly/sisterly family-type atmosphere, one where violence does not exist, and the criticisms delivered by the storytellers (calypsonians) are taken in good cheer.

Locked out of this atmosphere for two years, Saint Lucians thirst to revel in the most dominant of the music genres embedded in their DNAs could plainly be seen with the opening of this year’s calypso tents.

Even in the early stages of these tents, it was clear that COVID-19 was unable to kill this piece of our culture which is rooted in traditions developed by West African slaves brought to the Caribbean.

And the tents are doing just what they have been created for: Apart from bringing Saint Lucians together in an atmosphere of ‘family’ love to enjoy an artform which is truly sweeter than any other, the tents continue to be the birth parents of great storytellers, each year bringing forth new babes onto their platforms and nursing them into becoming master storytellers.

Today, we pay tribute to some of those who the tents nurtured into the master storytellers they are today, or were in their day. We make mention of The Mighty Pep, Ashanti, Papa Vader, Lady Leen, Herb Black, Wally, Jackson, Robbie, Rootsy, Educator, Tricky, Jaunty, Morgie, Black I, Pele, Chippy, Get Through, TC Brown, Cheryl, Black Pearl, and more.

If there are persons we have missed, both alive and dead, remember they are just as important, as each in their own way have added their own piece of fabric to the colourful masterpiece of Saint Lucia Kaiso tapestry.

And so, we call on the calypsonians to continue providing sociopolitical commentaries. Do not be afraid to use the artform to express genuine daily struggles of living in Saint Lucia and the economic inequalities that exist in Fair Helen. And when necessary, continue to use the artform (calypso) as a form of musical protest.

Let the calypsonians push the boundaries of free speech, delivering lyrics on topics that are relevant to our lives, but ever mindful of slander. Yes, the politicians will not like the bold and daring lyrics of some master storytellers when such lyrics are aimed at them and their follies, but that should not deter the calypsonians who must remember that they too will always knock heads with what passes as the moralistic sections of the society.

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