Tag Archives: Calypso-from-Panama

We Won’t Let Them Die!

“Lord” Byron Downing as he appeared in an interview from 2008.

We usually equate the Ukulele with the famous Hawaiian singers.

With the news of the death of one of the few remaining Panamanian Calypsonians, “Lord” Byron Downing, we can’t help but feel even more motivated and convinced that they are gone but not forgotten. We are also convinced of the great importance of preserving our wonderful Westindian heritage here in Panama and for the entire world to recognize and cherish. Continue reading

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

Violeta Green and Lord Cobra- A Meeting of Three Worlds

Violeta Green performing before an enraptured audience.

Violeta Green at her best.

There was a time when the name
Violeta Green was synonymous with the City of Colon. The same may be said of Lord Cobra. As we’ve already discovered, although he was a native of Bocas del Toro, Cobra lived and worked throughout his life in the province of Colon and both Violeta and Cobra, as well as being close friends were consummate exponents of two musical genres that are part of the Panamanian culture today: jazz and calypso. 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

Lord Kon Tiki

Lord Kon Tiki, one of Panama’s Calypso legends.

His real name is Alberto Allen Bryan and he was born in Calidonia, Republic of Panama on September 5, 1934 to Constantino Allen and Aydé Bryan. During his early childhood, like many other Westindian Panamanian children in Panama City, Alberto lived in the barrio of El Marañon, where he still lives to this day. He studied primary school at Pedro J. Sosa public school, where I attended, in the heart of Calidonia. Continue reading

The Calypsonians of Panama

Typical Calypso Grill scene in Panama.

Lord Cobra performing during his more vigorous years.

Panama has not been without its share of musical geniuses and some of them emerged out of the ranks of the Calypsonians who, for the most part, were the first generation talent that took root in Panama from the wave of immigrant labor that arrived during the turn of the twentieth century. They, although not as well promoted as their Trinidadian counterparts, became an established group of musicians and interpreters of this musical art form both in and out of Panama, especially in New York City amongst the Panamanian and West Indian audiences who resettled there.

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