Anniversary of Calypso on the Billboards
On Saturday the 18th May, 2013, our music industry would celebrate another milestone, that of adapted versions of calypso reaching the top spot(s) on Billboard charts.
All Recording Artists/Songwriters are aware a song reaching the billboard charts is a sign of a major accomplishment. The Billboard charts have been around since the early 1940’s. To date these charts remain a tool in determining a song’s worldwide popularity.
In May 18th, 1963 a song known as ‘If you wanna be Happy’, sung by American Jimmy Soul, hit # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The significance of this happening to Trinidad and Tobago is the fact the song is based on a calypso ‘Ugly Woman’ originally written and composed, in 1933, by calypsonian Roaring Lion. It was recorded by him in 1934. Frank Guardia was the person who modified Ugly Woman, thus creating ‘If you wanna be happy’ andcreated history for the calypso. It went on to be featured in several movies including Mermaids, released in 1990 and My Best Friend’s Wedding, released in 1997.
Prior to this, there were other adapted Calypsoes also on the Billboard Charts. Roaring Lion’s Marry Ann was composed in 1945. In 1957 both The Hilltoppers and Terry Gilkyson & the Easy Riders did versions. On February 9th 1957, The Hilltoppers’ version reached #3, while on April 6th, 1957 Terry Gilkyson’s version reached # 4 on the Billboard charts. Rum ‘n’ Coca Cola is another example of an adapted Calypso that reached the charts in 1945, in fact it was #1. It was written by Lord Invader, composed by Lionel Belasco and that version was sung by the Andrew Sisters.
Between the 1930’s to the 1950’s, Calypso music had a widespread presence internationally. Prominent American entertainers would often re-record Calypsoes written and composed by Trinibagonian Calypsonians. A noteworthy example of such an occurrence was when famed actor Robert Mitchum re-recorded the calypso ‘Ugly Woman’ in 1957 and renamed it ‘Logical Point of View ‘. Hollywood also used several calypsoes in films between 1940 to 1955.
Among these adapted versions is the very popular ‘Jump in the Line’. This was recorded by Harry Belafonte in 1961 under the name Shake Shake Senora. It was released on the album ‘Jump up Calypso’ and was later featured in the films Beetlejuice in 1998 and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning in 2008. Among the many other versions, the song was covered by American ska-swing band the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies for the soundtrack to the movie Basketball in 1998. It was sampled by Pitbull featuring Sean Paul and T Pain, off his 2011 album, ‘Planet Pit.
Barrack Yard Productions takes this opportunity to highlight these events and we salute the late Roaring Lion for his contributions to our musical legacy..
Original Recording of ‘Maryann’ by Roaring lion 1945 http://youtu.be/Lx_Xh94ZZQA
Hilltoppers version of Marianne #3 Us top 40 Billboard 1957 http://youtu.be/7FYB80GjZAw
Harry Belafonte’s recording of Jump in the Line 1961 http://youtu.be/SSoGGM_UZvw
Movie clip from ‘Little Mermaid(III)’2008 sound track’ Jump in the Line Shake Shake Shake Senora’ http://youtu.be/5dl7yavdn4c
Recording of ‘Shake Senora’ Pitbul, Sean Paul, T Pain 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RwFk2q471U