Calypso Joe: Vintage

This is a throwback to an article I did for the Calypso Association 50th anniversary magazine in 2007. In the interest of increasing awareness of the accomplishments of some of our iconic calypsonians and increasing appreciation for the art form, I figured I would share some of that issue with you. This particular article looked at the Anchors of Antiguan calypso – not the superstars covered in Over the Boundary but the reliable contributors known for their consistent play, providing a strong foundation for the growth of the art form. The first of these looked at Franco; in this post, I’ll share the section of that article focused on Calypso Joe – who in 2015 distinguished himself as one of the star presenters of Antigua and Barbuda’s first ever TEDx forum. DO NOT repost without permission or credit.

Joseph ‘Calypso Joe’ Hunte’s ‘Bum Bum’, became, in 1970, the first homegrown road march winner; and it can still get hips rocking with its old school shout out to the party loving side of any Antiguan.

“I say Ella le go me hand

Le me jump in de band…”

Coming one year after his entry into the Calypso arena, it’s significant for another reason. As current Calypso Association president Jerome Bleau wrote in a 1997 article, “it took Antigua and Barbuda 13 years of Carnival before it could throw off the heavy weight of Trinidad’s heavyweights. Prior to this period (i.e. 1970) the Trinidad road march song was automatically the road march for Antigua. Joe helped break the spell. It is historic.” ‘Bum Bum’ remains one of his biggest hits to date.

Apart from his pioneering role on the road, Joe claimed the 1971 Calypso monarch crown, the only individual not named Swallow or Short Shirt to do so in the 1970s. His winning tunes were ‘Educate the Youths’ and ‘Recorded in History’. Other well loved tunes include  ‘War’, ‘A Nation to Build, A Country to Mould’, and 1972’s ‘Life of a Negro Boy’- his performance of this on competition night and the crowd’s response ranking as his all-time favourite Carnival memory.

Bleau, in the previously cited article, also said: “Few Calypsos composed here match Joe’s in literary quality while he was a master of the catchy and patriotic line.”

“Every citizen to the cause of justice must rise

We must build together and not fractionize

Dedicated to your country’s cause with body mind and soul

We have a nation to build, a nation to build, a country to mould

We have a nation to build, a country to mould”

Guitar in hand, he’s become a familiar face on the hotel circuit and at other national shows, in his post-competition days, continuing to play his part in song.

As with all content on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Seriously, a lot of time, energy, love and frustration goes in to researching and creating content for this site; please don’t just take it up just so without even a please, thank you or an ah-fu-she-subben (credit). If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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