Tag Archives: database

Songwriters Database – Status Report

In the time since I started building the data base of Antiguan and Barbudan literature – expanding that definition to include the writing which influenced my formative years, calypso, often not written down, uncredited, I have struggled to build the songwriters database. Part of the hurdle has been my own too narrow definition – there are many Antiguan and Barbudan songwriters, for instance, who do not write calypso (but instead mix it up in gospel, jazz, rnb, reggae, hip hop, soca, and fusions of many of these and other forms); perhaps they felt that this space was not for them. I have tried to grab the ones I can but, problem number two, is that too often writers are uncredited. Part of it, going back to calypso, had to do with the prophetic nature of calypso – if the prophets had ghost writers, they certainly stayed in the shadows, so, too, it seemed, for the most part (with notable exceptions like Shelly Tobitt, Dorbrene O’Marde, and Marcus Christopher) the calypso writers. 

Dobrene Omarde presents copy of book to Marcus Christopher

Dorbrene O’Marde with the late Marcus Christopher, two of Antigua and Barbuda’s main calypso writers.

When CDs or before them cassettes, and before that vinyls were still a thing, they often listed sponsors and maybe songs, maaaaybe producer if a name brand producer, but rarely (read: almost never) lyricists, composers, and the like. So I’ve had to pluck a lot from memory, boosted by research, because I want to be as factual as possible. And though I’ve asked time and again for people to help me fill in the blanks, while fiction and poetry book writers reach out with fair frequency to have their listing corrected or updated, only one songwriter has ever contacted me with his songs and then when I requested verification, returned with that as well. It took time but he understood, it seemed, the importance of putting these things down for the record, how often we are not part of the larger conversation simply because we haven’t bothered to write ourselves in to the history.

So, this songwriters database remains a struggle list – light on details. Perhaps with funding and a research intern or two, I could remedy that, but for now, so it stands.

So the call goes out again, if you’re a songwriter and you’re miscredited or not credited at all in the songwriters database , bring the receipts; if you’re not a songwriter but you know the history, congratulations you are a valuable resource – help me out; and if you’re a fan, well, enjoy: Antigua and Barbuda songwriters database

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!, Fish Outta Water, With Grace, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Do not re-use content without permission and 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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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: Illusion
The artist: King Short Shirt

You told the youths that they were free
And slavery has lost its sting
But they’re not foolish they can see
You’re lying deep within
Slavery has not left our doors not yet I’m sure
We have got to fight the battle some more
The time has come for every man in the Caribbean
To forge one common destiny
Designed to make our people free
We have got to stand up for the rights to lead the lives we choose
To change, enhance, or to refuse

If you think the battle is done
My brethren you are riding
an illusion, an illusion
You talk of progress, love and justice, peace and unity
all illusion
We have no hold on these our native islands
Our hands are tied, we don’t control our actions
Come le we forward together in a social endeavor
our goal: social control
We slave no more
We’ll slave no more
only then we’ll slave no more
We’ll beg no more
We’ll stoop no more
Only then, we’ll be no …(?)


We cannot live forever more
Subjected from shore to shore
Reflecting cowardice and shame
Against our ancestral name
Are there no warriors left among us to rise and shine
No heroes left to rise up on to the shrine
No martyrs in our history for the youths to know
Scallas (?) died to make us free
Cuffy died to make us free
Garvey died to make us free
Must all these warriors die in vain
While we go back to slavery once again


The struggle has only just begun
We’ve got to carry on
Uniting these West Indian lands
May take us generations
But independent in this region don’t mean one damn
If we can’t be independent as one
The economical policies are disheartening
The people voices are ringing
We are tired of living
A life of total subjection
Told what to spend
And what to keep
God knows sometimes we ain’t even have enough to eat


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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Short Shirt’s Wedding

by King Obstinate

“Ladies and gentlemen,
I am going to marry Fester
Any woman that can atolerate me for 26 years
Deserves more than a medal
She deserves a ring”

He live with the woman for 26 years
Six pickney to she name
She build a house behind he back
Short Shirt was so ashamed
The poor girl see no future ahead
So she take a bite of the beach bar bread
When Barabas hear the foul play
He say “darling, sweet heart, sugar cake honey,
(Aye Aye) Le we get married right away”

When she pupa get the news
Right away he hit the booze
The muma faint all expose
Smelling salt in she nose
Tiefing Jim was dressed up neat
Destin two socks on he feet
Dangerous Ruth she ah cry
And Tiny throwing Pump-e-eye

Clarvis come Greenbay and tell me
He never see so much hypocrite
Plenty ah dem go to warrant
But most ah dem go fu tief
As the speaker started to talk
They start taking up all the knife and fork
And when the reception done
Is ashtray, soup bowl, ketchup and salt
Even the table cloth and all gone

When the pupa get the news
Right away he hit the booze
The muma faint all expose
Smelling salt in she nose
Tiefing Jim dressed up neat
With Destin two socks on he feet
Dangerous Ruth she ah cry
And Tiny throwing Pump-e-eye

The bride was dressed up in all white
With a veil covering she face
Shorty in a crocus bag suit
Even Sobers hide he face
The wedding was well attended
Every man eat their belly full
But the hotel is still waiting
To see if Watty, Shelly, Tim, or Papa Bird
(Aye Aye) Which one go pay the bill

But when she pupa get the news
Right away he hit the booze
She muma faint all expose
Smelling salt in she nose
Tiefing Jim dressed up neat
Papa Seeta two socks on he feet
Dangerous Ruth she ah cry
And Tiny throwing Pump-e-eye

He confess to me after the wedding
He say “is not so much the bread
But in New York I saw a doctor
Who tell me me go dead
Look you see ah lose so much weight
But you know me have plenty faith
If the sickness take a next course
Ah go take back the house, sell the beach bar, bang she
And get a divorce”

When the pupa get the news
Right away he hit the booze
The muma faint all expose
Smelling salt in she nose
Tiefing Jim couldn’t eat
Destin two socks on he feet
Dangerous Ruth start to cry
And Tiny run out ah Pump-e-eye
*transcribed from the recording; all errors/inaccuracies are mine. JCH.

You can listen to other songs by this artiste by searching ‘King Obstinate’ on this site and you can find other Antiguan and Barbudan lyrics by searching ‘Antiguan and Barbudan lyrics’ on this site. If inclined, you can also reach out to wadadlipen at yahoo.com to help build the Antigua and Barbuda lyrical database.


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