2012 has more to celebrate other than 50 years of Independence. This year also marks 100 years of us having a recording industry. To commemorate this, I will be posting a series of “firsts” occurrences and/or events in the context of the recording history of our country. RIATT, the organisation responsible for bringing this to my attention, has indicated this milestone will be celebrated with a series of events; the first to be a re-creation of Lovey’s Band later this year. Stay tuned to this space for more information.
First Band to be recorded from Trinidad and Tobago:
Lovey’s Band 1912
In June 1912, George Bailey led Lovey’s String Band to the US where they recorded for both Columbia and Victor Records. That first recording was of Mango Vert.
Lovey’s Band was made up entirely of stringed instruments; they played calypsoes and related styles. Lovey’s Band was the leading string band to play for colonial balls and other elite events. The Band was originally formed during the 1890s and continued performing until the early 1920s. Its Members were:
· Walter Edwards – clarinet; George R. L. Bailey & L. Betancourt – violin; P. Branche – flute; C. Eugene Bernier & F. A. Harte – cuarto; Patrick L. Johnson –bass; Cleto Chacha –braga; Louis Schneider –tiple; Donald Black & L. Demile –guitar; Egbert Bertie Butcher – piano.
Some other early recordings include: Trinidad Paseo, Petrol and Sara, Mari-Juana and Manuelita.
The 1912 recording of the song Manuelita has been included in the US Government’s inaugural ‘Top-50’ list of recordings to be preserved in perpetuity by the Library of Congress.
The archive was created to preserve recordings that are culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. Lovey’s work ranks as the only listed recording by a non-American, to be included in this listingwhich includes the likes of : Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, The Great Caruso, George Gershwin, Bessie Smith, Cannonball Adderley, Bob Dylan, the father of gospel music Thomas Dorsey, and latter-day rap pioneers, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
Yet another notable fact is Mango Vert was recorded a good five years before the first jazz recordings in the US; which was in 1917. This gives credence to Trinidad and Tobago having one of the oldest recording industries in the world.
Lovey’s Trinidad String Band shares a space in history representing the Trinibagonian rhythm in a collection that features virtually every music genre from classical to avant garde to jazz.