Music and Dance
The main types of music popular in Grenada are calypso and reggae. French Caribbean music known as ‘zouk’ now seems to be having a strong influence on calypso. There are a few local bands who mainly play on the hotel circuit. Steel pan, originating in neighbouring Trinidad, is a major part of the music scene and is improving in standard all the time. There are also a few drumming groups scattered around the island. There is an annual drum festival held in the village of Tivoli, which is growing in popularity and is attracting international acts. Folk dance/singing groups are trying to keep alive the traditional dances and songs. Carnival is celebrated in Grenada on the second weekend of August every year and in Carriacou and Petite Martinique at the traditional time of just before Ash Wednesday. There’s DJ music, steel pan bands on floats and street parades with brightly-coloured costumes. It is a time of great revelry and fun. There are many traditional characters to look out for, including the Jab Jabs (devils), and Shortknees (like Pierrots). Carriacou has a very particular type of masquerade called Shakespeare Mas which can be seen during their Carnival, where participants recite long stretches of Julius Caesar interspersed with their own tales of bravado. This has been an unbroken tradition for centuries and is one of the oldest forms of masquerading in the Caribbean region.
Carriacou has a very rich tradition of music and dance that has survived the centuries. Carriacou is unique in that it is one of the only places in the African diaspora where people know from which tribal people they are descended. The Big Drum and Nation Dance are drumming and dancing that accompany special events. Nation Dancing is important because it commemorates the link with Carriacouans’ African heritage and each tribe, Ibo, Kromanti etc. has its own particular rhythm and dance steps. Easter time is a festive time in Carriacou and the Big Drum is sometimes performed. Some of these traditions have been dying out, and there is now a three day Maroon Festival (normally at the end of April) put in place to revive them among the younger generation. Carriacou and Petite Martinique also have small ‘string bands’ playing traditional music and dances like the Quadrille have also survived.