Music of The Bahamas
Posted by: Nassau Paradise Island on March 18, 2014
The Bahamas is renowned for its relaxing vibe, great times and lively culture that will keep you dancing all night long. And who doesn’t love grooving to some Bahamian songs? Well, make sure to pack your dancing shoes because the music here will light your soul! To help celebrate Music 20/50 Festival in May we’re going to take a look at the Music of The Bahamas, and get you moving even before you step off the plane.
The origins of the joyous Bahamian tunes stem from three very different types of music: calypso, rake ‘n’ scrape and soca. Calypso music, the true staple of the Bahamain sound, is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago. Influences of calypso music can be heard in songs such as The Andrew Sisters’ “Rum and Coca-Cola”, and the style has also inspired many hip-hop and R&B artists, even spinning off a new genre of music called rapso.
The rake ‘n’ scrape style is a combination of sounds made from membranophones, idiophones and aerophones. Membranophones are traditional goombay drums made of goatskin that are stretched over a wooden barrel and decorated in geometric designs and bright colors. Idiophones are carpenter saws scraped with a nail or butter knife, and aerophones are accordion-like instruments.
Soca music, also referred to as the “Soul of Calypso”, is a fusion of calypso and Indian instruments using dholaks, tablas and dhantals to create a more carnival, reggae sound. Over the years, soca has replaced calypso and is now the most common music used and heard during festivals and celebrations in The Bahamas.
One of the best times to experience the vivacious music and culture of The Bahamas is during the Junkanoo Festival, a yearly celebration of The Bahamas that happens in the early morning hours of Boxing Day and New Year’s Day across many towns, with the largest celebration taking place in downtown Nassau. If you can’t make during the holidays you can always catch “rush outs” which are smaller versions of Junkanoo that take place at venues, like Marina Village in Nassau Paradise Island, throughout the year.
Now that you know a bit about the background, here are three famous Bahamian artists to add to your Nassau Paradise Island playlist.
The Baha Men
The Baha Men are the famous artists behind the remake of the hit song, “Who Let The Dogs Out”. Do you remember how popular that song was? It was so popular that the song earned The Baha Men several awards including a 2000 Grammy for Best Dance Recording of the year, and in 2002 they won their second award for Favorite Band from the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards.
The Baha Men‘s music has also been featured in variety movies such as: The Lion King, Shrek, Miss Congeniality, Rat Race, Around the World in 80 Days, and Garfield: The Movie.
Take a listen to “Who Let The Dogs Out” below.
Ronnie Butler is a famous Bahamian calypso and rake ‘n’ scrape musician, whose music career has stood the test of time—five decades to be exact! Ronnie’s often referred to as “The Godfather of Bahamian Music” because of his dedication and work to promoting The Bahamas’ lifestyle and culture through song.
Ronnie began his career at 16 years old playing in local Bahamian bars and nightclubs. Some of Ronnie’s famous songs include, “Burma Road”, “Going Back to the Island”, and “Pretty Brown Eyes”. You’re sure to hear some of his music on your trip, maybe even at some of these fantastic Nassau Paradise Island nightclubs.
Ronnie’s music and influence has been such an important part of Bahamian culture that in 2003 he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). What a fantastic achievement!
This is Ronnie singing “Burma Road”; it’s sure to get your body moving!
“King” Eric Gibson
“King” Eric Gibson was a Bahamian musician who specialized in playing modern calypso music. Eric was born into a musical family and grew up on the small island of Acklins, just southeast of Nassau Paradise Island. It wasn’t until the 1950s that Eric really started his music career and formed his first band, King Eric & His Knights.
King Eric & His Knights were extremely popular among Nassau Paradise Island visitors during their time, and were known for playing sold-out shows in hotels and nightclubs around downtown Nassau. Later in his career, Eric opened his own venue called King & Knights Club, where his band headlined and the shows included carnival-style entertainment like fire juggling and limbo dancing.
Eric, like Ronnie, was also a vital part of Bahamian culture and was assigned the role of semiofficial Ambassador of Bahamian Goodwill. Up until his death in 2013, Eric continued to perform and opened his own Italian-Bahamian restaurant.
Here’s a fun song from King Eric & His Knights:
With so much history and culture planted in the roots of these beautiful Islands, it’s no wonder why everyone says “It’s Better in The Bahamas!” From fantastic music and famous shipwrecks to stunning coral reefs and dreamy beaches, we truly do have a paradise waiting for you.
So, go dust off your best shoes, get your suitcase out and come on down to The Bahamas and let’s all go dancing. In the meantime, here’s another cheerful melody to listen to while you’re packing. Don’t forget to come get social with us and share what you’re most excited about and love about Nassau Paradise Island. We can’t wait to see you! Now let’s get funky…