From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"In 1945 The Andrews Sisters appropriated the song "Rum and Coca-Cola", which had originally been recorded by Jamaican musician Lord Invader. The Andrews Sisters' version sparked a new fad for this infectious new style, calypso. The craze reached its apex of popularity in the mid-1950s with the release of the hugely successful Harry Belafonte single "Banana Boat Song" and Belafonte's million-selling 1956 LP Calypso."--Sholem Stein
Harry Belafonte, a New Yorker of Jamaican origin, released wildly popular "calypso" hit records in the period 1956-1958. In reality "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" and "Jamaica Farewell" – both featured on Calypso (1956) and both written by Irving Burgie – were mento songs sold as calypso. Previously recorded Jamaican versions of these now classic "calypso" hits can be heard on the compilation Jamaica - Mento 1951-1958 (2009).
Louise Bennett-Coverley gave Harry Belafonte the foundation for his 1956 hit "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" by telling him about the Jamaican folk song "Hill and Gully Rider" (the name also given as "Day Dah Light")."
"Jamaica Farewell" was compiled and modified from many folk pieces to make a new song. Burgie acknowledged his use of the tune of another mento, "Iron Bar"".--Sholem Stein
Calypso originated in Trinidad at about the start of the 20th century. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of African slaves, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song. This forged a sense of community among the Africans, who saw their colonial masters change rapidly, bringing French, Spanish and British music styles to the island of Trinidad. The French brought Carnival to Trinidad, and calypso competitions at Carnival grew in popularity, especially after the abolition of slavery in 1834 . While most authorities stress the African roots of calypso, in his 1986 book Calypso from France to Trinidad, 800 Years of History veteran calypsonian The Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) asserted that calypso descends from the music of the medieval French troubadours.
Over 100 years ago, calypso further evolved into a way of spreading news around Trinidad. Politicians, journalists, and public figures often debated the content of each song, and many islanders considered these songs the most reliable news source. Calypsonians pushed the boundaries of free speech as their lyrics spread news of any topic relevant to island life, including speaking out against political corruption. Eventually British rule enforced censorship and police began to scan these songs for damaging content. Even with this censorship, calypsos continued to push boundaries.
The first calypso recordings, made by Lovey's String Band, came in 1912, and inaugurated the Golden Age of Calypso. By the 1920s, calypso tents were set up at Carnival for calypsonians to practice before competitions; these have now become showcases for new music.
The first major stars of calypso started crossing over to new audiences worldwide in the late 1930s. Attila the Hun, Roaring Lion and Lord Invader were first, followed by Lord Kitchener, one of the longest-lasting calypso stars in history -- he continued to release hit records until his death in 2000 . 1944's Rum and Coca-Cola by the Andrews Sisters, a cover of a Lord Invader song, became an American hit.
Calypso, especially a toned down, commercial variant, became a worldwide craze with the release of the "Banana Boat Song", a traditional Jamaican folk song, whose best-known rendition was done by Harry Belafonte on his 1956 album Calypso; Calypso was the first full-length record to sell more than a million copies. 1956 also saw the massive international hit Jean and Dinah by Mighty Sparrow. This song was a sly comment as a "plan of action" for the calypsonian on the easy availability of prostitutes after the closing of the United States naval base on Trinidad at Chagaramas.
Early forms of calypso were also heavily influenced by jazz such as Sans Humanitae, the extempo melody in which calypsonians lyricise impromptu, commenting socially or insulting each other, without humanity - once again the French influence. Many calypso chord progressions can be linked to twelve bar jams in jazz as demonstrated by Lord Kitchener, one of the most famous calypsonians and a melodic genius.Template:Fact
Elements of calypso have been incorporated in jazz to form calypso jazz.
Notable calypso jazz albums