The Caribbean region is primarily referenced as the home of Jamaica’s billion dollar Reggae and Dancehall music industry but there is another genre that that originated here that has become a major force on the world stage – Soca. Emerging from Trinidad & Tobago in the early 1960s, this artform has exploded into the UK, European and Asian markets.
Musician Ras Shorty I was often credited as the mastermind behind Soca music after he mixed the sounds of Calypso and Chutney – both are also Trinidad & Tobago originals – with Cadence-lypso from Dominca in the early 1960s. The new genre quickly became a dominant cultural export of Trinidad & Tobago and was adopted by several other countries, such as Barbados and St. Vincent, as a part of their own musical styles.
Soca is heard throughout the year in Trinidad & Tobago but is most prevalent during the Carnival season, which usually starts on December 26th and climaxes with the Parade of the Bands on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. By the way, Carnival also originated in Trinidad & Tobago but that is a feature for another day!
Now that we’ve had a short history listen on Soca music, let’s actually listen to some of the genres most popular songs! Listen to some of those tunes below:
Denise Belfon – ‘Ka Ka Lay Lay’
Destra Garcia – ‘Sassiness’
Fay-Ann Lyons – ‘Heavy T Bumper’
Machel Montano – ‘Advantage’
Patrice Roberts – ‘Mo Wuk’
Sanelle Dempster – ‘De River’
Square One – ‘Faluma’
Super Blue – ‘Jab, Jab’
Shameless bias: I honestly believe that there is no other genre of music that is as exciting as Soca. The sounds of the brass instruments, the drums, the strings and the rhythms simply cannot be matched by anything that I have ever heard and there is a natural sense of melody that the performing artists possess that enable them to forge a memorable hit every year.
Although Soca artists has incorporated the styles of R&B, Soul and European House music during the last decade, they have maintained the integrity of their artform while many foreign Pop acts simply jump on trends without any cultural identity of their own. Honestly, it’s refreshing to here Soca and Calypso artists on the radio because they represent real music as opposed a collection of basic beats and auto-tune
Photo by NCCTT