Trinidad’s most popular musical exports are probably the steel pan (created in Port of Spain in the 1930s) and calypso. Classic old-time calypso is still a staple on the menu at the Nu Pub (formerly the Mas Camp) on Ariapita Avenue in Woodbrook, and steelpan players entertain audiences at competitions, festivals and events year-round (but especially at Carnival time).
For indigenous Trinidadian music – calypso, soca, and steelpan – the best time of year is clearly Carnival, but increasingly these can be enjoyed year-round. Competitions are a great place to hear established and budding music talent.
Beyond our local traditions, there is an increasingly diverse music scene. There is a strong tradition of artists who grow their own “world music” from distinctly Trini roots: sitarist Mungal Patasar and his Indian-creole fusion music; Orisha chantuelle Ella Andall; the rapso of 3canal and Maximus Dan; Trinidad-born star Heather Headley; and local fusion bands 12theband, jointpop, and Orange Sky. There are small but vibrant pockets of rock, pop, reggaeton, R&B, jazz, and reggae musicians who are gaining prominence. Home-grown indie music, local rock, jazz and chutney can often be heard live at bars and restaurants.
Keeping both western and eastern classical traditions alive, choral groups like the Marionettes, Southernaires, Lydian Singers, and Love Movement; university groups like the UWI Festival Chorale, present concerts, sometimes accompanied by steelbands (which also stage occasional concerts of their own) including full-scale operas or musical theatre productions. They also present local music in non-traditional settings and arrangements. Budding and established solo vocalists also host recitals.
If you’re in the mood to party, look for shows by Machel Montano; Kes the Band; Destra Garcia and Atlantik; Shurwayne Winchester and YOU; Faye-Ann Lyons, Bunji Garlin and the Asylum Band; and other countless soca stars. Very popular gospel concerts are staged at larger venues such as the Jean Pierre Complex. Coming up to Christmas, parang groups take centre stage, playing Spanish-influenced seasonal folk songs.
Source: “Trinidad Arts & Culture: An Overview", Discover Trinidad & Tobago. Reproduced with permission from MEP Publishers.
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