Calypso: Background information when reading The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

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The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

A Novel

by Monique Roffey

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle
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  • Paperback:
    Apr 2011, 448 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:

In 1956, Americans were getting their first taste of Trinidad's unique contribution to music in the form of Harry Belafonte's infectious crossover hit, "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)." A brief fervor for all things calypso followed, resulting in such nutty fare as tough guy actor Robert Mitchum's album, Calypso - Is Like So... (1957), and kitschy B movie Bop Girl Goes Calypso (1957). Although Belafonte may have been known as the King of Calypso in the United States (a claim to fame never made for Mitchum), Trinidadians revered serious performers like Lord Kitchener, Sir Lancelot, and the Mighty Sparrow, and for them, calypso symbolized much more than barbecue background music.

The roots of calypso are believed to date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when West African slaves introduced gayup - a kind of call and response music led by a chantwell - to the Caribbean. These songs endured through centuries of colonization by the Spanish, French, and British, and, after slavery ...

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