Tag Archives: Calypso

The Reign of Walter Ferguson

Walter Ferguson Gavitt doing what he most likes to do, strum on his guitar in the patio of his house in Cahuita, Costa Rica.

Image thanks toTragaluz Panama

“A certain woman told me that I was a foreigner with only one pair of pants, that should not be amongst our society, that I was an alien…The authorities came with pistols and artillery to demand I show them my cédula (personal ID).” Walter Ferguson. Fragment from “One Pant Man”

Although Walter Ferguson Gavitt was born in Panama, in his childhood his parents decided to try their luck and moved to Costa Rica. From then on his life and his talents as a musician are intrinsically tied to Costa Rica’s rich culture. Continue reading

Lord Cobra- the Eternal Troubadour

Lord Cobra, Panama’s Calypso monarch.


Someone in the middle of the funeral procession said, “He has left us and taken Calypso to heaven!”

This man, seasoned by the creative activity of his prolific life did not die in his native Patois Town in Bocas del Toro, framed by the solitude of cemeteries and rail road track leading towards an infinite banana plantation. In an uncommon farewell, the relatives, friends and fans of Lord Cobra gave their last good bye to the popular singer of Calypso that had marked the golden era of the national bands. One of the best in his genre, Cobra was recognized in the “patio,” (the common people) as the “foreigner.” Continue reading

The Calypsonians- Lord Kitchener

Lord Kitchener (1922-2000)

Aldwyn Roberts [1922-2000], was a calypso composer and performer born in Arima, Trinidad and Tobago. Born on April 18th to a blacksmith father named Stephen and a homemaker mother named Albertha, he is best known as Lord Kitchener, a sobriquet he derived from the valiant and formidable British soldier whose name was famous in Trinidad at the time Roberts started his career as a Calypsonian. He was also sometimes called just “Kitchener” or fondly “Kitchie” by those who knew him well. Continue reading

The Mighty Sparrow

The wonderfully picaresque Mighty Sparrow.

The Mighty Sparrow of Trinidad in a dazzling performance.


The Mighty Sparrow
, along with several other Trinidadian immortals, laid the cultural and stylistic ground for the Calypso “Movement” that seemed to take firm root during the late 1950’s. This musical art form, however, evolved from a much earlier tradition as we have seen in my previous post.

Slinger Francisco, better known as “The Mighty Sparrow,” and less popularly known as, The Birdie, was and continues to be the unrivaled “Calypso King of the World.” The Mighty Sparrow, as well as many other Calypsonians, had a strong influence over the Westindian community in Panama reflected in the style and compositions of their own Panamanian Calypsonians. We will soon discuss our native Calypsonians in more depth. Continue reading

Calypso and Its Roots

Roaring Lion, Raphael Arlus Kairiyama De Leon aka Hubert Raphael Charles,
got his name from a resigned calypsonian called “Poetic Harris” who,
on hearing the power of De Leon’s singing, jumped up, threw his

hat in the air and shouted “He roars like a lion”.

Harry Belafonte and his million copy plus selling Calypso album from 1956

While thousands of Westindians from Grand and Small Island alike streamed into Panama to labor at building Panama’s Great Waterway and continue its smooth running operation, a new musical genre had been evolving and gaining much popularity in the Caribbean. Calypso would eventually lighten and stir the hearts of many and reach the comfortable homes of Americans and Europeans alike through the magic of Hollywood and the small screen. The tale of Panama’s “Silver People” would not be at all complete without the story of Calypso and the Calypsonians who helped shape Panama’s culture and history. Continue reading