Music of Guyana
The music of Guyana is a mix of Indian, Spanish, African, European and Amerindian elements. Important American, Caribbean, Brazilian and other Latin musical styles are popular. Popular Guyanese performers include Terry Gajraj, Harry Panday, Eddy Grant, Dave Martins & the Tradewinds,(Johnny Braff, Ivor Lynch & Sammy Baksh) Aubrey Cummings and Nicky Porter. The Guyana Music Festival has proven an influential part of the scene.
The first half of the 20th century saw a number of popular Guyanese dance bands, including the BG Musicians Band, Harry Banks Orchestra, Al Seales & His Washboard Swing Orchestra, Bert Rogers & His Aristocrats Dance Orchestra and Mr. Gouveia's Orchestra. By the 1960s, these big bands with prominent horns, woodwinds and other instruments became less popular in favor of a wave of string bands. These included The Rockets, Bumble & the Saints, Sid & the Slickers, Bing Serrao & the Ramblers, Combo 7, Rhythmaires, Dominators, Curtis MG's, Rudy & the Roosters, Yoruba Singers, Little Jones, Mischievous Guys, Cannonballs, and the Telstars.
The Rockets led by Michael Bacchus and lead singer Johnny Braff along with Bumble & the Saints, led by Colin Wharton, was perhaps the most influential group in this shift. By the end of the decade, new instruments like box guitars (introduced by Bing Serrao & the Ramblers) had taken over, while heavy guitar work by the Rhythmaires and Combo 7's complex drum solos proved influential.
Other bands of the 1960s and 1970s were Cannonballs, Curtis MG's, Dominators, Little Jones, Mischievous Guys, Rhythmaires, Rudy and the Roosters, Sid and the Slickers, Telstars, and the Yoruba Singers.
Shanto is a form of Guyanese music, related to both calypso and mento. It became a major part of early popular music through its use in Guyanese vaudeville shows; songs are topical and light-hearted, often accompanied by a guitar.
Calypso is especially popular in Guyana, which was imported from Trinidad. Calypso is satirical and lyrically-oriented, often played during celebrations like Mashramani, while chutney is played and performed at private events, usually with lyrics in English and/or Hindi.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana & Suriname Chutney-Soca music is a crossover style of music incorporating Soca elements and Hindi-English lyrics, Chutney music, with Indian instruments like the dholak and dhantal.
Indian music arrived with immigrants from South Asia. This originally included folk music played with dhantal, tabla, sitar, harmonium and dholak, later including tassa drums. Music was mostly Hindu songs called bhajans, as well as filmi. The tan singing style is unique to the Indian community in Guyana and Suriname.
Popular Indo-Caribbean music began with the Surinamese star Ramdew Chaitoe in the late 1950s with his album, The Star Melodies of Ramdew Chaitoe, and accelerated with that country's Dropati and, later, Trinidad's Sundar Popo. It was not until the late 1970s, however, that Neisha Benjamin, the first major Indo-Guyanese performer, began releasing hits like "O'Maninga". She often addressed political issues, like the socialist policies which was perceived as oppression of the Indian community because of the restriction of flour and dall(splitpeas)by Forbes Burnham's of the People's National Congressin reality these policies were hard against all Guyanese. Neisha was mainly a singer of love songs.
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady. Reggae is based on a rhythmic style characterized by regular beats on the off-beat, known as the skank. Reggae is normally slower than ska, and usually has accents on the first and third beat in each bar.
Reggae song lyrics deal with many subjects, including religion, love, sex, peace, relationships, poverty, injustice and other social and political issues.
- Sammy Baksh was known to be one of the famous Guyanese proponents of Rock-Reggae fusion music. He is highly regarded for his song dated from the 80's titled,“To Be Lonely”. One member within his lineup was a guitarist named Azad Mohamed who toured across Guyana with Sammy Baksh. Baksh, as well as Mohamed are currently working on new music in hopes of revitalizing their earlier years as musicians.
- Manuel, Peter (2006). Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-463-7.
- Manuel, Peter. East Indian Music in the West Indies: Tan-singing, Chutney, and the Making of Indo-Caribbean Culture. Temple University Press, 2000. ISBN 1-56639-763-4.
- "The African Folk Music Tradition from Guyana: A Discourse and Performance". Brown Bag Colloquium Series 2003-2004. Retrieved on October 1, 2006.
- Seals, Ray. "The Making of Popular Guyanese Music". Retrieved on October 1, 2006.
- Guyana Beat- Website documenting guyanese culture.