Tag Archives: calypso

Old Road Fight by Queen Ivena

Transcribed by ear; all errors or omissions are mine. I’d love to continue building this data base of Antiguan and Barbudan song lyrics; anyone who wants to help with this (teachers? students? can anyone say research project?) welcome to do so.

Song: Old Road Fight
The artist: Queen Ivena

So with disrespect
He want to go through me land
To build highway and to mash up my production
There is no more land to give
I have no alternative
I must preserve my land so that my children could live
But them Uncle Tom
They always very happy
To appease Massa
Just to sit on his gallery
So tell Sterling and Dakati
Tell Southwell and friend Robbie
That me blade well sharp
So nuh underestimate me

So we ah go fight them
in the dead of night
Fight them whether black or white
Fight them in the morning (Fight them)
Fight them in the evening
Fight them each and every one
Fight them all to save we land
Fight them in the morning (Fight them)
Fight them in the evening
Fight them every day until they give in (We go fight)
Fight them every day
We bound to win

From the first attack
They retreated from their golf course
They never could stand the farmers united force
And while they push their resort
And the youth they spin and contort
They never said they wanted our bay to make a drug port
The environment, the enemy came to destroy
To say he’s a nature boy might just be a ploy
The mangrove he is damaging
And the beach where we love to swim
So on every front Old Road will be fighting him


When the war drums roll
They calling Old Road heroes
Kublai, Gracie, Shaska, Baggas, and King Laro
Young Gantone, and Kubuja
Raswaka and John Dyer
I say you fought that day in the spirit of Africa
Our ancestors, we know they were very proud
Ma Clemmie and Olive Humphreys was in the crowd
Vivian and daughter Nancy
Devon Deckins and friend Nicey
With soldiers like Ms. Aggie we will take over Wadadli


The call to war has reached up Parham Harbour
It falls on the ears of Rasta Man Destah Jah
Where is Namba and Alister
Call Lovell and Zakela
It is a holy war, a revival of Black Power
When the conch shell sound
It spread right across the land
King Court calling rebel man and rebel woman
Go get your All Saints posse
It’s time for Black unity
For this time around we are certain of victory


This is transcribed by me (blogger and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator) Joanne C. Hillhouse for educational purposes; no profit is being made.

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New Caribbean Children’s Books

Last September, we reported that Harper Collins in the UK was preparing to roll our a series of #ownvoices Caribbean written and illustrated titles as part of its Big Cat series of children’s book.

Those titles are out now; so an update seems timely. Especially as I and the illustrator of my title (The Jungle Outside) Danielle Boodoo-Fortune are planning a live to discuss our collaboration and creative journeys. Hope to see you there.

In the order of (scheduled) release, one of the earliest books to drop was a non-fiction book Sea Turtles which presents, in a visual and child-friendly way, the life cycle, habits, and habitats of different types of sea turtles – with specific reference to Caribbean environmental issues. Each pdf in this post provides book details from the publisher.

The author of Sea Turtles is Carol Mitchell, a Kittitian-Nevisian writer and publisher in her own right (as owner of the independent press Caribbean Reads Publishing, whose publications include Musical Youth and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure).

Diana McCaulay of Jamaica, formerly of the Jamaica Environmental Trust, chose the aquatic world for her story about Finny the Fairy Fish, an Ugly Duckling-esque tale set in a Caribbean coral reef.

McCaulay has won critical acclaim and awards for a number of teen/young adult and adult books, the most recent of which is the Burt Award winning Daylight Come set in a dystopian future Caribbean.

The Jungle Outside by Joanne C. Hillhouse (that’s me) is a book inspired by my mother and my nephew and their interactions when he was younger, which extolls the virtues of exploration and discovery, and overcoming one’s fears in order to taste the fruits of life.

As noted above, the illustrator and I are planning a Live on my YouTube channel. Don’t leave us on there alone. Come through.

Turtle Beach by Barbara Arrindell, with fellow Antiguan-Barbudan illustrator Zavian Archibald, is another environmentally themed, beach-set book, this one set in the real world and inspired by real life.

“It has come to my attention that while children are more aware of environmental issues they are also more burdened, more fatalistic, about it all (this awareness is of course anecdotal but I’ve come across articles pointing to the anxiety climate change awareness has stirred in Generation Z and Z minus). A book like this gives them agency and a sense of hope; a reinforcement that nature knows its course, they can help, and there is a down the road. And that’s good because that’s the energy we need to fight these battles.” (from this review)

That Imam Baksh’s The Lost Sketch Book has one of the more interesting premises is no surprise given that the award winning Guyanese writer made his name as the author of teen/young adult fantasy (Children of the Spider, The Dark of the Sea – both Burt Award winning titles). In this, his first children’s picture book, the titular book can bring images to life.

Desryn Collins is literary arts curriculum officer in Antigua-Barbuda, and originally from Guyana. Her turn to authorship, How to become a Calypsonian, is a book on (arguably) the official music of the Caribbean.

While junior calypso competitions are common in Carnival countries, we believe this breakdown in picture book form of how to become a calypsonian may be a first.

The Wonder of the World Leaf is the first book by Summer Edward, who has been one of the most consistent advocates for Caribbean children’s literature through her Anansesem journal for Caribbean children’s literature and her related consulting services. It is about a connection between grandmother and child, Wygenia, and a quest for a healing herb in the author’s native Trinidad.

What I would encourage you reading this to do, if you believe at all that there is a need for people to read more diversely, if you want to boost Caribbean stories, if you want to help these and other books in that lane find new readers, is share them. This can mean buying them. It can mean passing them on to another reader. It can mean mentioning one or more of them on your social media (plural). It can mean writing a short review on one of the places online (goodreads, amazon etc.) that accommodate reader reviews. The publishing marketplace is crowded, the reader has enormous power to help books they love stand out from the crowd.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Dance with Me – King Short Shirt

In a trance want to dance
First time the girl go hear a steel band
This young gyal from Switzerland came down just ot get a sun tan
In time to witness a j’ouvert morning
See thousands on the street dancing
Just standing there she listening to the beat
The girl went wild in the streets

And she shouting
Dance with me
Jumping up in the steelband
You go think she born in the islands
Dance with me
Breaking back bobbing an weaving like Muhammad Ali boxing
Dance with me
I never see such a thing yet
That morning I’ll never forget
Dance with me
I decide to join the action and accept the invitation
Jump inside ah de ban
Glass a rum in me hand
You should see we how we carry on

Creating confusion
In the heat a we 25th Carnival
She tall and slim
So she wining
Twisting up all in front a de band
People start to gather round
When she limbo low to the ground
Even the Carnival committee was amazed
J’ouvert morning she dance Scotch Row like a stage

Das macht spass*
Ich been fruch*
German, you know the girl start to sing
Ichan been duchantapshansan*
But nobody understanding
Acting like if she got rum in she brain
Friends try to drag she outa the rain
Lois and Shirley, they try to control she
But she jumping nonstop like she insane
An she bawling dance with me…

Repeat cho. ending with:

She bawling Antigua me come from


Dance with me
Dance with me
Dance with me
If you dancing
Dance with me
Dance with me
Dance with me
Dance (x2)
Then repeat to fade
Dance with me
Dance with me
Dance with me

#This 1981 release by Antiguan and Barbudan calypso Short Shirt was possibly a collaboration with Stanley Humphreys.

*pardon my German. Correct if you can.

For more song lyrics from Antigua and Barbuda, see our song lyrics data base.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written (in this case, transcribed, as the songs writer is to be credited with its writing) by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure-and its Spanish language edition Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen, my books, and my freelance writing-editing-coaching-workshop services. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

Please note, all lyrics are shared here for informational and educational purposes; no profit (no money at all) is being made. If you share, please credit the artistes for their work, and the site for the time and effort of transcribing.

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CALYPSO ALL-ROUNDER, DESTROYER … and Rising Star, Young Destroyer

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. I’ve previously posted the issue’s articles on Calypso Jim, Calypso Joe, Franco, Swallow, King Onyan, Ivena, the Mighty Bottle, the King Zacari, and Scorpion. This particular article focused on father and son duo Destroyer and Young Destroyer. DO NOT repost without permission or credit.


One is The Man Who Might Have Been King; the other a royal contender or The Man Who Could Be King. Of course, for Leston ‘Young Destroyer’ Jacobs – former Junior Monarch and, via the CARIFESTA Calypso competition, reigning World Calypso King – Someday can’t come soon enough. His father, Oglivier ‘Destroyer’ Jacobs, meanwhile, seems pretty resigned to the fact that perhaps he’s peaked as far as competition goes. The closest he’s come is first runner-up spots in 1971 and 1989. If you ask both of them, though, they’ve already earned the crown a time or two, notwithstanding the final decision of the powers-that-be.

Still, beyond all the competition talk, there’s a clear passion for Calypso. Destroyer, the man who – as entertainer, songwriter, tent manager, and association executive member – can be called an All Rounder in the Calypso game, declared, “up to now, I don’t listen no other music but Calypso.” It took his son only seven years of this kind of exposure before he first took to the stage. “Coming from a Calypso family, I’ve always wanted to become a Calypsonian professionally,” Young Destroyer said. “Even before 1990, I was kind of pressuring my father to put me in the competition.” It’s somewhat ironic that with his own seven-year old-daughter now chomping at the bit, Young Destroyer has decreed that she’s too young.

Both remember vividly, their first tent outing. “The first time I performed was at Kensington Court in a Calypso tent run by the carnival committee,” Destroyer reflected. “I had a song called ‘Bring back the Cat-o-Nine’. At the time, the big gun was Short Shirt and a guy named Skeech; the first runner up the year before. When he heard me sing, he came and said: “Youngster, you have a good song there, but good for the tent not for competition.” But at the end of the 1967 semifinals, it was Destroyer who made the cut – alongside the likes of Creole, Lord Lee, Mighty Dove, Smarty, and Brain; not Skeech.

Young Destroyer was, similarly, a hit, right out the gate. He went straight to the University, Swallow’s Calypso Pepperpot, where the crowd showered him with money as a token of their appreciation; the year was 1990. He won his first of four junior monarch crowns that year; the other years being ’93, ’96, and ’97. Added to this was a junior title claimed in Trinidad and, of course, last year the World Calypso King title.

Destroyer Sr. reflected, jokingly, that his young son used to taunt, “you know why you don’t want to give me no song, because you ‘fraid I goin’ win before you.” But while these words may have had the tint of prophecy, the son having claimed several crowns since his father relented and let him into the arena, both insist that there’s no rivalry. “We both share victories together,” said Young Destroyer. “I can’t be victorious without my father.”

True, he’s turned to other writers now and again and has received encouragement from others in the fraternity along the way, but his one true mentor, Young Destroyer declared, has been his father. His father, in fact, penned the two tunes – one of which includes the Best Social Commentary winner in local competition ‘Back of de Bus’ – that shook Trinidad at CARIFESTA in 2006.

Both admit having felt discouraged in local competition. There was the virtual shut-out of top positions during the Short Shirt and Swallow days. But even the decline or retreat from competition of the Big Three – King Obstinate being the third of this triad – the crown has eluded Destroyer. For him, a bitter memory is his loss in 1989 to King Fiah. His selections that year were ‘Discrimination’ and ‘Message from Gorkie’; and, he said, “I know I won that year.” What’s more, he claims that the judges knew it, too. “If is five judges,” he said, “nearly all of them come and say, ‘Destroyer, you know ah you win the crown; but how arwe go walk outa dis park wid all dem noise for Fiah.’”

As for Young Destroyer, he’s come close; 2002, for instance, when he was second runner up with ‘Don’t Write me Off’ and ‘W’ine Back’ or 2003 when he placed first with ‘Queen of My Heart’ and ‘Antigua Means Everything to Me’. Some contend that, like Jim a few years ago, he sang the wrong song when he didn’t pair ‘Popeshead Street’ with ‘Back o’ De Bus’ in 2006; but given how low he placed, Young Destroyer is not convinced it would’ve made a difference.

These disappointments made the victory in Trinidad that much sweeter. “I had this gut feeling that I would go down there and come home victorious just to prove to them that I have good talent and I have good songs to win the crown here any time,” Young Destroyer said. “I don’t know why I keep getting low marks, but I just wanted to prove to them that my father is still one of the best writers in the world.”

High praise indeed! Still, it’s not the first time Destroyer’s songwriting ability has been praised. Dorbrene O’Marde’s Calypso Talk, at one time the Antiguan Calypso bible, in 1988 praised his storytelling ability; its relevance and specificity. That relevance and specificity can be found, for instance, in lyrics like

“They move de surcharge from we light bill
but fuel variation killing we;
is All Fools Day,
is fool they fooling we.”

His favourite of his tunes, however, is ‘Woodpecker Sarah’, one of the best examples of the double meaning he likes to give to his lyrics. In the song, a single mom is forced to go in search of “wood” (wink wink) to burn coal to support her children.

Among his favourite songs by other Antiguan Calypsonians, meanwhile, are Latumba’s ‘The Love I Lost’, Short Shirt’s ‘Inspite of All’, and Calypso Joe’s ‘Poor Little Negro Boy’. Young Destroyer’s favourites include King Obstinate’s ‘Wet You Han’ and ‘Always Come Back to You’, Short Shirt’s Tourist Leggo’, Swallow’s ‘Fire in de Backseat’, and his dad’s ‘Woodpecker Sarah’. In fact, he added, “I like all my father songs.”

Talk of his father’s songs must inevitably lead to his father’s politics and its influence on his music. Destroyer wears his red proudly, joking when picking up his 2007 National Vibes Star Project Award for producer of the year for ‘Back of de Bus’ “bury me with this and red.” But he’s of the view that he’s held true to the Calypsonian’s mandate to sing it as he or she sees it. “When Labour was in power, I sing ‘Jail Cart’, ‘Country Running Good’, and ‘All Fools Day’ and all them things there,” he said. “Even Labour Party supporters, even ministers come and say, ‘if you’re a labour supporter, why sing these songs? You not doing the party no good’. I tell them ‘is Calypso, you sing what you see’.” His son’s ‘Greedy Horses’ and his own ‘Beg Georgie Pardon’ were also anti-establishment. It could be argued, however, that he was showing his colours when he came down harder on current Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer than he did on former PM Lester Bird when singing of the injustices done to late activist, analyst, and newspaper editor Leonard ‘Tim’ Hector. But as Destroyer sees it, he was merely looking at it from Tim’s perspective. “When I was writing that song, I did some research with some people close to Tim,” he said.

Of course, if we touch on Destroyer’s politics, it’s only fair that we touch on Young Destroyer’s widely reported brushes with the law and the potential impact this has had on his Calypso career. “Well, look where I am now,” he replied when quizzed about this. “I’m now the Calypso King of the world. Sometimes in life there are obstacles in people’s way. It can make you better or make you worse. It’s how you plan to come back from these obstacles. Young Destroyer is a person that lets nothing bring him down, regardless of what people think. I know what I’m headed for.” What he confidently asserted, during the interview, that he is headed for in 2007 is all the crowns – party and Calypso – and more. “This album, the world is looking forward for this album,” he said, “so we can’t politicize this album. This album is to market Antigua, to market the product, and reach even further than CARIFESTA King.”

Destroyer, meanwhile, wouldn’t be competing, at least, not up to press time; but he remained on track with his work with the Masters Calypso tent, where Young Destroyer was scheduled to make his latest run for local Calypso glory.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Share the Honey

Written by Fd/sung by Short Shirt

How dare you assume
I’m a prophet of doom & gloom
‘Cause I’m concerned & so I should be
Night time like jumbie haunting me
Daytime ‘A’ worry constantly
About conditions here in my country
All day we struggle just to get by
While foreigners eating most of the pie
Totally disillusioned some people have given up hope
With financial pressure it’s hard to cope
Many try to drown their sorrows with drink & dope
But not me no

chorus 1
I love Antigua
Way beyond measure
I love Antigua
Here lies my treasure
From Sea View Farm to Old Road
Belly hungry pocket dry
Black clouds of desperation
Sweeping across the sky
Foreigners alone seem to flourish
And I don’t think that is fair
If honey in this rock
Antiguans want their share

verse 2
I am not inviting prejudice nor greed
Outside investors we need
But then we owe then no special favour
Our fathers fought for this legacy
It’s our right not a privilege
To enjoy the best fruits of their labour
But this is one big rat race
Antiguans way back in second place
And may I remind them this is my island in the sun
And no outsider ‘goin’ spoil my fun
I don’t intend to pack my belongings & run
Not me no

chorus 2
I love Antigua
Way beyond measure
I love Antigua
Here lies my treasure
Can’t cater to whims and fancy
Of the foreign man
They want to buy every nook & cranny
Of this blessed land
They smellin’ of sweet success
While we catching we arse right here
If honey in this rock
Antiguans want their share

verse 3
Must be déjà-vous we’ve seen it all before
English pirates came ashore
Exploited we people and their labour
Full up ‘they’ pockets & then sail away
We bear the scars up to this day
But never again not in Antigua
Peacefully we must protest
Any unfair play must be redressed
Picket parliament if you have to
To make our feelings known
From dawn to the setting of the sun
Let our voices ring out as one

chorus 3
I love Antigua
Way beyond measure
I love Antigua
Here lies my treasure
When the best brains of the country
Have to run abroad
A social policy overhaul must be on the cards
And now to my government
My language simple & clear
If honey in this rock
Antiguans want their share


Lyrics submitted by the writer. For more Antigua and Barbuda song lyrics, go here.

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Heaven Help Mankind

written by Fd/performed by Short Shirt

Sittin’ on my boat drinkin’
All alone and thinkin’
A felt a sudden urge to bare my soul
In this world we live in
Damn ludicrous what’s happening
Pictures of helpless victims
Make me blood run cold
So many billions wasted on weapons
Lying in silos under our feet
While millions are dying
Sick babies crying
Homeless, hungry, nothing to eat
Voice from the bottle tellin’ me wake up son
Something must be done
The state of affairs is cause for concern

chorus 1
Something must be wrong
Why mankind hate each other
Something must be wrong
So many million years on this earth together
Something must be wrong
We find cure for all kinds a cancer
Something must be wrong
Is there no cure for greed in the heart my brother
Man like a sailing ship adrift without a sail
Destined for disaster large scale
If some practical solution we don’t hurry up and find
Heaven help mankind

verse 2
Maybe I should have a
Rap with a preacher
Who better to advise me what to do
I spoke with church leaders
And religious teachers
Only to encounter differing views
One preacher tell me
Come to church Saturday
Next preacher tell me
Sabbath day long gone
Roman Catholic say
Try a piece a bacon that’s okay
But Jewish rabbi tell me that is wrong
When A take a look at the Middle East
Where religious fanatics dictate
Big big tug of war between church and state

chorus 2
Something must be wrong
Why man can’t live together
Something must be wrong
Why man can’t trust each other
Something must be wrong
We build bridges over miles a water
Something must be wrong
Where is that bridge to love and peace my brother
Men like Sadaam and mad man Gadafi
Disciples of Hitler left here to haunt we
If the key to trigger nuclear weapons they should find
Heaven help mankind

verse 3
How about the children
Tomorrow’s men and women
Who will provide the guidance they’ll need
Some parents couldn’t care less
And teachers are hard-pressed
Our children’s future looks bleak indeed
And while we vegetate
While we sit and wait
This world is sinkin’ deeper in the mud
Governments won’t take a stand
So radicals take the chance
To go on spillin’ innocent blood
We gotta find that special leader
Dunno where dunno how
Oh Moses where are you now

chorus 3
Something must be wrong
So wrong.. so wrong
Something must be wrong
Everyday we seein’ the sign
Something must be wrong
So wrong.. so so wrong
Something must be wrong
Terribly wrong with mankind
Father clock tickin’ away we near the end of the road
This world sittin’ on a time bomb ready to explode
If we don’t seek intervention of power divine
Heaven help mankind

Lyrics submitted by the writer. For more Antigua and Barbuda song lyrics, go here.

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Celebrating Dr. Prince Ramsey; RIP, Sir.


Calypso writer/producer Dr. Prince Ramsey receiving a lifetime achievement award at the National Vibes Star Project Awards (held one time in 2006). – photo by Joanne C. Hillhouse

And so news comes (sadly) of the passing of Sir Dr. Prince Ramsey, an Antiguan and Barbudan (and wider Caribbean) medical doctor by profession, and, by calling and choosing, an HIV/AIDS activist and cultural actor (as songwriter, producer, and, yes, actor in the film No Seed – as a producer on that film I remember being on set that day through take after take as we filmed him playing a doctor delivering bad news to our main character). I’ve been fortunate to know him professionally (having interviewed him and artistes he worked with, wrote, produced for, and financed over the years) and socially (one of my favourite Old Year’s Night parties was at his house), and I am surprised (notwithstanding knowing that he had battled illness in recent years) and sorry to hear of his passing.

The Caribbean News Service reports that he died today (Friday 3rd May 2019) and leaves a legacy that includes “pioneering HIV services for pregnant women in the Caribbean”, and in 2018 received the UN Population Award for his various achievements. Those achievements include HIV/AIDS education and assisting people living with the virus with accessing the drugs that meant the difference between life and death.

Calypso fans will remember where his advocacy vis-à-vis HIV and his passion for calypso intersected with the Dr. Ramsey-penned and produced ‘Protect Yourself’ which won (in 2002) a second and final calypso monarch crown for Zero, a calypsonian living with the disease (a fact that added power and poignancy to the lyrics – while my interview with Zero about this song and his battle with the disease won me a PAHO Media Award).

‘Protect Yourself’ (lyrics):

We may not know just how AIDS began
but we surely know the mode of transmission
sexual encounter without protection
so we are exposed to this infection
some pregnant still refuse testing
some insist on breastfeeding
even the unborn exposed to this virus
that’s affecting all of us

If this turns out to be my last song
let the message still live on
the first disease of mankind
where the cure is so hard to find
aids have scientist baffled
so your life is not to be raffled
why take a chance for just one moment of bliss
you weren’t born to die like this
I sing this song with sincerity
I want the whole world to hear me
promiscuity ruins your health
protect yourself

In spite of all the sex education
AIDS still expand through migration
with inequality and pockets of poverty
it still remains a human tragedy
it is the worst plague to affect mankind
but the first one we can confine
the black plague and Spanish flu kill so much people
this virus worse than these two


if you want to live to a ripe old age
control your life at an early stage
promiscuous behaviour
dirty needles you use
to use a condom some bluntly refuse
all of us like moments of pleasure
we don’t care what happen after
unfortunately you test positive
life is now a pain to live


AIDS is a disease the world must confront
our sexual behavior got to be different
no more running around from partner to partner
otherwise we go have an AIDS disaster
I feel so obliged to make this statement to offer enlightenment
this killer virus cause so much suffering and pain
that ‘s why I join the campaign


We are fortunate that ABS TV in the last year did a retrospective on Dr. Ramsey’s career in calypso.

It’s worth watching in full for a complete understanding of Dr. Ramsey’s investment in calypso including producing the Wadadli Gold and Wadadli Diamond albums in the late 70s/early 80s which gave a platform to artistes like Douglas, Redding, Calypso Jim, Dr. Solo, Chalice (whose classic ‘Nightmare Party’ was part of these recordings) – financing not only the albums but the promotional tours; producing classic albums by one of Antiguan calypso’s big three King Obstinate (who describes him as “a great producer”) especially his 40th anniversary album and commemorative booklet in the 1990s but also earlier albums like ‘Believe’; his work with at the time former Burning Flames frontman King Onyan (which, if I’m remembering correctly is the only collaboration he ever profited from, according to him) – a partnership that yielded back to back to back calypso monarch crowns.

Some quotes from the ABS TV doc:

“I have been probably the most successful artiste that he’s ever worked with. …when I went solo, I approached him about being my manager and he was the only one that was very willing to assist me at the time … and from then he has become a friend, a brother, uncle, father, everything in one, and we have had that not only musical relationship, we have had that very friendly relationship and I find in all honesty he’s probably the most honest person I’ve ever met… and when I embarked on ‘Crazy Man’ he was the one who encouraged me to enter the calypso competition which was not on my plate…’Crazy Man’ went on, we won the competition, then we came back again, and since then all of my competition songs have been written by Dr. Ramsey. And I’d like to say he’s probably one of the best writers and the biggest song as a local competition calypso song ‘Stand up for Antigua’ was written by him…it’s going to be hard for another song to become a national anthem like that.” – King Onyan

“We worked well together and you don’t have to worry about it; if he’s going to work with you, he works with you – whether it’s financial or getting the bookings, making sure you get paid. He’s a very principled man and I admire that about him.” – King Obstinate

“I’m sure that most persons would know that he has written maybe over a thousand songs  cause he’s worked far and wide so he writes all different types of calypso – social,  political, humorous.” – De Pan Man, who also spoke personally of Dr. Ramsey’s philanthropy, the money he invested beyond the artistes he worked with directly

“I don’t know if I can ever reach that stage again in terms of lyrical content, melody. Dr. Ramsey did that.” – De Bear re his Dr. Ramsey-penned song ‘Man is Dust’ which captured the 2007 Leeward Islands Calypso title

“In my estimation he could have built 10, 20 30 houses but he chose to put his all into calypso in terms of producing the music and ensuring the survival of calypso.” – Dr. Solo

“Year after year, whether it’s Onyan or the Bear or Solo, Progress or Zero; he worked with some ladies also – Althea, Lady Smooth, even Stabba out of Barbuda…there is nothing to describe Dr. Ramsey for the work and the contribution he has done for the art form, for calypso, for calypsonians here in Antigua and Barbuda.” – Kenny Nibbs, veteran DJ

If you’ve read Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother, you’ve seen her speak positively of Dr. Ramsey and his efforts vis-à-vis health care and HIV/AIDS – notwithstanding her usual criticisms of the island as a whole.

He inspired that kind of response. Clearly.

Dr. Ramsey began writing calypso while still a medical student overseas and wrote his first song for local competition, in 1979. His iconic songs are many – Onyan’s ‘Criteria’, Obsti’s ‘Sugar Bowl’, Baba Blaize’s ‘In Antigua (we wake up to the sun)’ – having produced over 45 albums for various artistes. All of this with no formal training in music. Dr. Ramsey is a Carnival Lifetime Achievement honoree among many other accolades – local, regional, and international – in not only calypso but the medical field.

He remained gracious through it all, saying in one interview, “I don’t have the talent or the gift. I have a passion for calypso. People like Shelly Tobitt, they have a gift. I gave Shelly a song one time and he sat down and played the guitar and came up with the melody right there. That’s a gift. I can’t do that. People like Onyan can do that.”

Well, if you’ve watched the ABS TV doc (or even just read this far) you know Onyan and others return the sentiments re Dr. Ramsey’s gift – and more important than that that there was no more stand-up guy.

He will be missed, but his contribution lives on.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen, my books, and my freelance writing-editing-coaching-workshop services. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Under the Carpet (2002)

by Marcus Christopher (as posted to Tongues of the Ocean special Antigua and Barbuda issue, 2014)

Around here things use to give man fit
The way they does sweep bad deeds under the carpet
You and I know what I saying is true
How them does cover up what certain people do
Once you up there with rank and file
You get away clean—a tap on the wrist and a smile
Though you get catch red-handed in corruption
Like a reward you get transferred with promotion

Chor: And everything get swept—under the carpet
………..Ask Outlet ‘bout Christian Children funds—if it’s under the carpet
………..And if the forensic report tried to put anything—under the carpet
………..Like the hurricane lumber business went—under the carpet
………..Etc. etc.. etc etc ————-

Around here man use to get real vex
But had no means to take out their text
You could only grumble and take your blows
You were exclusively held in check by the likes of Mr. Rose
No matter how you frustrate stress out yourself and tug
They will sweep whatever they want to, under the rug
It’s the order of the day once you in the club
Your punishment for misdeed is transfer to a bigger job

But ’round here like things changing over
Since the advent of Radio Observer
School Children say they watching with the eyes of the Eagle
And nothing go pass—everything go get the needle
They say all the under-hand boo-bul, they go make disable
And is only clean cards they can play on top the table
From captain to cook, nobody getting no break
That’s why they investigating the video tape

Chor: Cause no longer will things be swept—under the carpet
………..No corruption cesspool can be swept under the carpet
………..Etc. etc. etc etc

More Antiguan and Barbudan song lyrics in the song lyrics data base and writer credits in the song writer’s data base.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved.

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Nationalism (lyrics)

Genre: Calypso
Origin: Antigua and Barbuda
Writer: Short Shirt and Stanley Humphreys
Artiste: Short Shirt
Year of release: 1981

Did you ever consider what a place this world would be
If there was no national border
You could come and go as you please
You wouldn’t need a visa to go to the USA
Emigration system would see the end of its day
But such a change will disrupt politicians plan
Whose aim it is to control their own gang
But so they rise up, I say, is so they fall down
Like Hitler, who want all will get none

Creating division among the world people
If we never had national boundaries
You and I could move about as free as a bird in a tree
Politician will never let this happen
They too power hungry to control people
They like to have soldiers fighting bitterly
To take over a little more territory
Soldiers die leave their family
Suffering in their country
That’s how nationalism is killing we

Russia put troop in Afghanistan
Iraq invading Iran
But this would simply never be
If they were all one country
Take a look at Germany
People of one family separated by political boundary
Suriname, Guyana, and Venezuela wouldn’t have no dispute over a border
And a Trinidadian fisher could fish in anywhere on Venezuela

Creating division among the world people
If we never had national boundaries
All the island gasoline would be shared equally
Politician will never let this happen
They too power hungry to control people
They like to have soldiers fighting bitterly
To take over a little more territory
Soldiers die leave their family
Suffering in their country
That’s how nationalism is killing we

India spend 25 million US to put a rocket up in the sky
Other nation they trying to impress
While their people standing their dying
Each nation must be number one
At the expense of their national
So who really benefit I don’t understand
Caribbean people wanted Federation
Politicians wanted their own nation
So it’s love for each other, you see
And not for the nation is our only way of survival

Creating division among the worl d people
If we never had national boundaries
Cambodia and China would exist peacefully
Politician will never let this happen
They too power hungry to control people
They like to have soldiers fighting bitterly
To take over a little more territory
Soldiers die leave their family
Suffering in their country
That’s how nationalism is killing we

“Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”
That is what one politician said but with him I must disagree
See what you can do for your fellow man regardless where he come from
Politician would have you kill for their preservation
What we need now is one world government
That will stamp out greed, hatred, and discontent
So Reagan, Brezhnev, and all you others
Step aside; make way for higher powers

Creating division among the world people
If we never had national boundaries
All the food in the whole world would be shared up equitably
Politician will never let this happen
They too power hungry to control people
Britain want to pass a Nationality Bill
So they will have the right to send out emigrant at will
They done work most of them for free
Had their forefathers in slavery
That’s how nationialism is killing we

Note: Transcribed from the lyrics. Anything in red I’m not sure of. You can help improve these lyrics or any others in the Antigua and Barbuda Song Lyrics Database. If you share give credit to the source – the songwriters’ obviously (sharing here is not intended to infringe their copyright) but also Wadadli Pen for taking the time to transcribe and share for public information. – JCH, blogger


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Lamentations by King Short Shirt

Sung by Mclean ‘Short Shirt’ Emanuel
Written by Shelly Tobitt

See also our song lyrics data base; and our song writers’ data base. All lyrics are transcribed from the song recording. Errors and omissions are my own; feel free to help me correct or fill in the blanks. – JCH, blogger

Lament oh my soul (x2)
I crying for this cruel world
Mankind can’t find no solution
I say, we reaping the sour fruits of retribution
And I’m now convinced we are violent, Lord
Vulgar animals
And is we who say we intelligent
We superior
We civilize and we wise
Yet we making all kinda bomb
Blowing up everyone
Killing one another with gun
And who ain’ got gun
Use knife

Lord I say
That the time has come
For us to get on our knees
Lift our head to the trees
To the very sky above you
(Oh Lord, Oh Lord)
Let there be happiness in our soul
(Oh Lord, Oh Lord)
Let there be love not hate in our world
Oh for the day when he come down
In all he glory and say
Let there be peace
And all them fighting cease

Peace, peace, peace
Everybody shouting peace
Oh lord
Love and happiness is what we need
No one no one
Will stretch that loving hand
Everyone sitting down on their ass
Watching the other man
While war and crime and violence
Gone rampant in every land
Yes, he said he made us above the animal
Destiny to hold
The galaxy’s in our hand
But dog and pussy stop fight
They living and unite
Is only we human wantonly destroy life


Female liberation
Even women wants their freedom
Rioting, demonstration
Where will this end
If it keeps on
I can only visualize annihilation
With them bombs and guns
And constant improvement on modernized weapon
Yes, he gave us eyes to see and ears to hear
But wha me eyes perceive
Lord a trembling in fear
Bombs falling from the air
Shooting everywhere
Rebellion far and near
And every day is more talk bout revolution I hear


Power madness has come
Every land in raw confusion
Poverty and starvation
Lining the street
Hand in hand with man
Grasping at the throats of the poorer ones
Pounding and grinding him in to oblivion
Hatred, injustice, greed and vengeance
Corruption and treachery
So very eminent
It’s the order of the day
You cannot get away
No matter what you do or say
Unless we kneel and let the nation heel



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