Music of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Last updated
Music of the Anglophone Caribbean
Regional music
Local forms
Related areas

The music of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines includes thriving music scenes based on Big Drum, calypso, soca, steelpan and also reggae. String band music, quadrille, bélé music and traditional storytelling are also popular.



Soca is a form of dance music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from calypso music. It originally combined the melodic lilting sound of calypso with insistent percussion (which is often electronic in recent music) and local chutney music. Soca music has evolved in the last 20 years primarily by musicians from Trinidad, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, some bands from Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Jamaica and the Lesser Antilles.

The nickname of the Trinidad and Tobago national football team, the Soca Warriors, refers to this musical genre.

Big drum

Big drum music is performed throughout the Windward Islands and is especially known in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines. The drums are traditionally made from tree trunks, but are more often made from rum kegs now. The socially aware or satirical lyrics are usually performed by a female singer called a chantwell, and is accompanied by dancers in colorful skirts and headdresses. Big Drum is commonly performed at weddings and other celebrations, especially the launches of boats. [1]


Calypso, with its satirical and socio-political lyrics, was developed in the 18th century as a fusion of African and French music styles. It eventually accompanied the rise of steelpan music. Steelpan were imported to Saint Vincent quickly. Calypso's political lyrics have continued to be an important part of the genre. In 1984, a Vincentian musician named Becket released a song called "Horne fuh dem", which helped defeat the ruling party in that year's election. [1]

Festivals and holidays

The Carnival is the biggest holiday in Saint Vincent. It is held in the last week of June and the first of July, and is known on the islands as Vincy mas. Festivities include calypso, soca and steelpan performances, many of them in large, competitive formats. [2]

Other holidays with musical components include the Christmas celebrations, which occur beginning on December 15 and include carolling, concerts and bicycle races. In addition St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrates the festival “Nine Mornings” and “Nine Nights of Lights”. Union Island holds an annual calypso competition, as well as the Big Drum Festival. [2]

The lead singer from the band Mattafix, known for their hit single "Big City Life", lived in St. Vincent for many years. A multi-platinum popular singer is Kevin Lyttle, whose "Turn Me On" topped charts across Europe. [3] Becket Cyrus is also well known within the island, with his hit "Teaser" earlier on in the country's history. Of the late there have been quite a lot of young and upcoming artists whose music is spreading throughout the Caribbean and the United States. These include Bomani, Skarpyon, and Jamesy P. Some of the Vincentian recording studios are: Skakes Studio, JR Studios, Sky studio, Non-fiction Recordings, Masterroom and Hysyanz. Also, the ever popular Award Winning Soca Artist "MaddZart", who is noted for his collaboration with Kevin Lyttle in the hit song 'Turn Me On' and his most recent launch of the Caribbean Nights Series in NYC, as well as his 2016 songs 'Function', 'Roll Bumper', 'Larger than Life', 'Designated Drinker' and 'All Hands' reaching radio station globally. MaddZart is a repeat winner of the Raga Soca Competition, which is an integral part of the Vincentian Carnival. And now most recently Problem Child has come onto the scene, who in July 2007 became the local carnival Road March winner with his hit song, "Party Animal", which also propelled him to Trinidad and Tobago's 2008 Carnival's Soca monarch finals. Also his brother Skinny Fabulous had a song that took him to Trinidad and Tobago's 2009 Soca Monarch Finals with his song "De Beast Leh Go".


  1. 1 2 "Cultural Profiles Project: Arts and Literature". Archived from the original on 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  2. 1 2 Cultural Profiles Project: Holidays Archived 2006-10-01 at the Wayback Machine
  3. SVG Tourism Archived 2004-03-12 at the Wayback Machine

Related Research Articles

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Country in the Caribbean

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, often simply referred to as Saint Vincent, is an island country in the Caribbean. It is located in the southeast Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, which lie in the West Indies at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Soca music is a genre of music defined by Lord Shorty, its inventor, as the Soul of Calypso, African and East Indian rhythms. It was originally spelt Sokah by its inventor but through an error in a local newspaper when reporting on the new music it was erroneously spelt Soca, Lord Shorty confirmed the error but chose to leave it that way to avoid confusion. It is a genre of music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1970s and developed into a range of styles during the 1980s and after. Soca was initially developed by Lord Shorty in an effort to revive traditional Calypso, the popularity of which had been flagging amongst younger generations in Trinidad due to the rise in popularity of Reggae from Jamaica and Soul and Funk from the USA. Soca is an offshoot of Kaiso/Calypso, with influences from East Indian rhythms and hooks.

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago during the early to the mid-19th century and spread to the rest of the Caribbean Antilles and Venezuela by the mid-20th century. Its rhythms can be traced back to West African Kaiso and the arrival of French planters and their slaves from the French Antilles in the 18th century.

Lord Kitchener (calypsonian) Musical artist

Aldwyn Roberts HBM DA, better known by the stage name Lord Kitchener, was a Trinbagonian calypsonian. He has been described as "the grand master of calypso" and "the greatest calypsonian of the post-war age".

The music of Trinidad and Tobago is best known for its calypso music, soca music, chutney music, and steelpan. Calypso's internationally noted performances in the 1950s from native artists such as Lord Melody, Lord Kitchener and Mighty Sparrow. The art form was most popularised at that time by Harry Belafonte. Along with folk songs and African- and Indian-based classical forms, cross-cultural interactions have produced other indigenous forms of music including soca, rapso, parang, chutney, and other derivative and fusion styles. There are also local communities which practice and experiment with international classical and pop music, often fusing them with local steelpan instruments.

The music of the Bahamas is associated primarily with Junkanoo, a celebration which occurs on Boxing Day and again on New Year's Day. Parades and other celebrations mark the ceremony. Groups like The Baha Men, Ronnie Butler and Kirkland Bodie have gained massive popularity in Japan, the United States and other places. Other popular Bahamian artists include Stileet and Stevie S.

Music of Dominica Music of Dominica

The music of Dominica includes a variety of genres including all the popular genres of the world. Popular music is widespread, with a number of native Dominican performers gaining national fame in imported genres such as calypso, reggae, soca, kompa, zouk and rock and roll. Dominica's own popular music industry has created a form called bouyon, which combines elements from several styles and has achieved a wide fanbase in Dominica. Groups include WCK, Native musicians in various forms, such as reggae, kadans (Ophelia Marie, and calypso, have also become stars at home and abroad.


Steelpan is a musical instrument originating from Trinidad and Tobago. Steelpan musicians are called pannists.

The music of the Lesser Antilles encompasses the music of this chain of small islands making up the eastern and southern portion of the West Indies. Lesser Antillean music is part of the broader category of Caribbean music; much of the folk and popular music is also a part of the Afro-American musical complex, being a mixture of African, European and indigenous American elements. The Lesser Antilles' musical cultures are largely based on the music of African slaves brought by European traders and colonizers. The African musical elements are a hybrid of instruments and styles from numerous West African tribes, while the European slaveholders added their own musics into the mix, as did immigrants from India. In many ways, the Lesser Antilles can be musically divided based on which nation colonized them.

Music of Saint Kitts and Nevis

The music of Saint Kitts and Nevis is known for a number of musical celebrations including Carnival. The last week in June features the St Kitts Music Festival, while the week-long Culturama on Nevis lasts from the end of July into early August.

The music of Antigua and Barbuda is largely African in character, and has only felt a limited influence from European styles due to the population of Antigua and Barbuda descending mostly from West Africans who were made slaves by Europeans.

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Annual event held in Trinidad and Tobago

The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is an annual event held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday in Trinidad and Tobago. The event is well known for participants' colorful costumes and exuberant celebrations. There are numerous cultural events such as "band launch fetes" running in the lead up to the street parade on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. It is said that if the islanders are not celebrating it, then they are preparing for it, while reminiscing about the past year's festival. Traditionally, the festival is associated with calypso music, with its origins formulated in the midst of hardship for enslaved West and Central Africans; however, recently Soca music has replaced calypso as the most celebrated type of music. Costumes, stick-fighting and limbo competitions are also important components of the festival.

The culture of Trinidad and Tobago reflects the influence of Asian, European, African, Amerindian, American, West Indians and Arab cultures. The histories of Trinidad and Tobago are different. There are differences in the cultural influences which have shaped each island. Trinidad and Tobago is an English-speaking country with strong links to the United Kingdom.

Big Drum is a genre and a musical instrument from the Windward Islands. It is a kind of Caribbean music, associated mostly closely with the music of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Music of Guadeloupe, Carriacou in Grenada and in the music of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Destra Garcia Musical artist

Destra Garcia is a Trinidadian musician, singer and songwriter of soca music. She is also known by the mononym Destra. She is one of the most popular female soca artists in the world.

In Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname, chutney soca music is a crossover style of music incorporating soca and calypso elements and English, Hindustani, and Hinglish lyrics, chutney music, with Western instruments such as the guitar, piano, drum set, and Indian instruments such as the dholak, harmonium, tabla, and dhantal.

The Southern Caribbean is a group of islands that neighbor mainland South America in the West Indies. Saint Lucia lies to the north of the region, Barbados in the east, Trinidad and Tobago at its southernmost point, and Aruba at the most westerly section.

Patrice Roberts Trinidadian soca singer (born 1986)

Patrice Roberts is a Trinidadian soca singer. She currently performs alongside popular fellow soca artist Machel Montano in his band, Machel Montano HD. She is also a second cousin of singer Bunji Garlin.