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Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada

11 Apr 11 - 06:57 PM (#3133318)
Subject: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,GUEST. MorwenEdhelwen1

Hello. I'm a 17-year-old girl from Australia wondering about the origins of the song titled "Brown skin girl" covered by Harry Belafonte which I sometimes like to sing in my free time. I have seen several sites which imply that this is a traditional folk song from the island of Grenada. I'd like to know if this song appears in any folk song collections or if there are any field recordings and also whether it may have originally been a sailors' song of some kind. Thanks.


11 Apr 11 - 08:37 PM (#3133366)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

Hey, what happened to the other posts?


11 Apr 11 - 08:41 PM (#3133367)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Jeri

Deleted. One of them was spam and the other was your reply to the spam.


11 Apr 11 - 08:44 PM (#3133371)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

Thanks. So, Jeri, would you happen to know anything about the song mentioned in my post?
-Morwen.


11 Apr 11 - 08:48 PM (#3133378)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST

I am trying to find information about variants of it, such as any traditional verses. The only information i can find is that the song is from Grenada and the chorus, "Brown skin girl/gal, stay home and mind baby, I'm going away on a sailing boat and if I don't come back, throw away the damn baby' is traditional. Many singers who perform it add verses, but are there any in collected versions, or any collections which contain this song?


11 Apr 11 - 08:50 PM (#3133382)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST, MorwenEdhelwen1

Ignore last post. copy and pasted if this isn't against the rules. Sorry:

I am trying to find information about variants of it, such as any traditional verses. The only information i can find is that the song is from Grenada and the chorus, "Brown skin girl/gal, stay home and mind baby, I'm going away on a sailing boat and if I don't come back, throw away the damn baby' is traditional. Many singers who perform it add verses, but are there any in collected versions, or any collections which contain this song?


11 Apr 11 - 08:58 PM (#3133386)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Jeri

I don't know anything about it, and all the videos of the song by Belafonte are blocked here. I did find a version on YouTube here. I can't see what the singer's name is.

There is some discussion there, though.
"This song was written by Trinidadian calypso singer, King Radio in 1946, and is a comment on the tendency of American servicemen in Trinidad during World War II to father babies and then abandon the children and their mothers when they returned to the United States.

It was popularised by Caribbean-American singer Harry Belafonte in his album, "Calypso" (1956). Jazz versions have been recorded by Sonny Rollins and Roy Haynes."


11 Apr 11 - 09:03 PM (#3133388)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST

Thanks. However, it looks like King Radio added verses. It seems like the song itself is older.


11 Apr 11 - 09:05 PM (#3133389)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

Oh not again! Thanks. That's not really what I'm looking for, but it's a great link. It seems like the song itself is older.


11 Apr 11 - 09:12 PM (#3133393)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Jeri

King Radio's version was in 1946 and Belafonte's was 10 years later in 1956. If King Radio added verses, what did he add verses to? Do you know of an earlier version?


11 Apr 11 - 09:32 PM (#3133404)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

No. In fact, that's what I'm looking for. The chorus is apparently traditional- Lord Invader performed a version with "What is wrong with you Miss Ivy, why are you trapping me with that baby?" beginning the first verse. King Radio sang his own verses with the same chorus (Harry Belafonte version), and there is also a mento version by Ben Bowers, but I don't know how old the versions other than Belafonte's are.
The verses are very different from each version. The singers probably added them to the chorus of "Brown skin girl, stay home and mind baby". I'm looking for collected lyrics to the chorus.


11 Apr 11 - 09:52 PM (#3133411)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

So does anyone know of a variant of this song or field recordings? That's what I'm looking for.


11 Apr 11 - 10:57 PM (#3133433)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,GUEST. MorwenEdhelwen1

Refresh


11 Apr 11 - 11:56 PM (#3133455)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

So does anyone know of a variant of this song or field recordings?


12 Apr 11 - 12:00 AM (#3133456)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Gerry

Morwen, calm down - you don't have to refresh every hour - have a little patience, someone will get back to you.


12 Apr 11 - 12:01 AM (#3133457)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

sorry


12 Apr 11 - 06:34 PM (#3134005)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,van lingle

Hi Morwen,
The great Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence did a noteworthy recording of it on a 1959 Folkways LP, called, I believe "Folk Songs of the Bahamas".


12 Apr 11 - 06:47 PM (#3134008)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST

Thanks. I am looking for early field recordings or references to folk song collections which contain it or songs similar to it though, but that could be a useful lead.


12 Apr 11 - 07:01 PM (#3134013)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Joe Offer

You'll find the Joseph Spence recording of the song on a Smithsonian Folkways album called Joseph Spence: The Complete Folkways Recordings 1958. I can't make out the lyrics he's singing, but the guitar work is wonderful. Follow the link to the notes, which aren't particularly helpful.

As indicated in this thread the version sung by Belafonte is attributed to Norman Span, whoever he was.

The message from Jeri above say the song was written by Trinidadian calypso singer, King Radio in 1946.

It's hard to trace the roots of many of the songs recorded by Harry Belafonte. I think that Caribbean songwriters didn't really see songwriting as a business, so they didn't worry much about claiming ownership of the songs.

-Joe-


12 Apr 11 - 07:03 PM (#3134014)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

Norman Span is the real name of King Radio.


12 Apr 11 - 08:05 PM (#3134051)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

I think it is entirely possible that some folk song collector travelled to Grenada and recorded it in an obscure hard-to-find field recording. The liner notes of the Joseph Spence album- thanks, Joe! - suggest that it is a folk song, but the Bahamas? why would a folk song from Grenada get labelled Bahamian? Maybe the theme is common? Does anyone have any folk song collections they could give me references to that contain songs similar to this, or even this song? I've done my own research- The Traditional Ballad Index apparently includes "Sloop John B", but not this, and I believe there should be references to "Brown Skin Girl" if it was collected.


12 Apr 11 - 09:39 PM (#3134077)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenad
From: Gibb Sahib

Morwen,

I don't understand what you're driving at. King Radio claims to have written the song. He got the copyright registered by 1949 (there's published record of this).

Is that it that you suspect he really didn't write it? Why? FWIW, it sounds to me like a song someone deliberately composed. What reason do you have to suspect it was "traditional" or that Span took it from another source?

Is it just the Grenada/Trinidad/Bahamas discrepancy? Assuming Span was from Trinidad (home of calypso/kaiso), I don't see any reason (yet) to suspect his songs did not gain later popularity on other islands. The song was known in the UK, Canada, and US by 1948:
http://books.google.com/books?id=m5XfAAAAMAAJ&q=%22brown+skin+girl%22&dq=%22brown+skin+girl%22&hl=en&ei=XNWjTYuGPKOE0QH3lbTtCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBg
http://books.google.com/books?id=vBUbAAAAMAAJ&q=%22brown+skin+girl%22&dq=%22brown+skin+girl%22&hl=en&ei=v9WjTZmqG6mx0QGMxKXuCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBzgK
http://books.google.com/books?id=w9VKAAAAYAAJ&q=%22brown+skin+gyal%22&dq=%22brown+skin+gyal%22&hl=en&ei=Ld2jTZWsIYWO0QGX8vXrCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAg

I'm sure the song spread. For instance, Caribbean professional musicians would go to Bahamas to perform for tourists. I don't see anywhere that says the song had to be "native" to a particular island's tradition.

If it was a popular song, by a know artist, what sort of "field recordings" would you expect to be "collected"? Is it that you want other people's non-commercial "cover versions" of King Radio's song?

As for other songs of this type...calypsos from the 1940s!

I hope you don't mistake my tone for rudeness, it is just confusion :) I'm ready to believe there could be an interesting story about this song, but so far I've not seen any reason to suspect there is.


12 Apr 11 - 09:43 PM (#3134079)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenad
From: Gibb Sahib

BTW, where does Grenada come in, anyway? Is that just a bunch a nonsense off of random websites, or a rumour floated by an irresponsible folkie? Don't get distracted by the "blood red roses" effect. (i.e. if there were never any blood red roses to begin with, it's no use trying to reconcile a bunch of facts that make no sense in relation to something that was made up.)


12 Apr 11 - 10:03 PM (#3134086)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: EBarnacle

I believe Sloop John B was composed in the 1950's and is copyrighted.


12 Apr 11 - 10:10 PM (#3134087)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

Calypso history books including Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad, and Caliban and the Yankees which i found on Google Books, state that "the original (of this song) was from Grenada", "taking off on a Grenadian folk song" one memoir states that Radio was "adapting an old theme", and one blog by a Grenadian woman describes her daughter singing the chorus, which she refers to as an "old-time folk song" . Another site also refers to "the folk version" of this song. There is no doubt in my mind that he wrote the 1946 version, and I have seen some sites which seem to be reliable on this being a common song in other repertoires. Which doesn't prove that he didn't write it. There is also another book on Google Books which lists a number of songs adapted by calypsonians which have roots in other islands. One is "Sly Mongoose (from Jamaica)" and another is "Brown Skin Girl (from the Grenadines)". He could have written it, but then he could have simply adapted an older song.


12 Apr 11 - 10:16 PM (#3134088)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

Sloop John B was found/collected as early in 1927, which is impossible if it was composed in the 1950s. I read threads on this site before I began posting here and the wikipedia article on "The Wreck of the John B". You can copyright something without having created it.


12 Apr 11 - 10:27 PM (#3134093)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenad
From: Gibb Sahib

Thanks, Morwen, that helps a lot! The picture has become much more clear of what you're after and how we might help.


12 Apr 11 - 10:30 PM (#3134094)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

So might you be able to help?


12 Apr 11 - 11:44 PM (#3134111)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Joe Offer

I haven't found much on Caribbean folk music. Alan Lomax did a fair amount there, and he produced a remarkable Town Hall concert in New York in 1946. Performers included The Duke of Iron, Macbeth the Great, Lord Invader, and Gerald Clark and his Invaders. I have a feeling that these performers, whose names are on many well-known Caribbean songs, drew their works from traditional sources.

The only early collection of Caribbean songs I know of, is The Island Song Book (1927), by John T. McCutcheon (1870-1949). I've been trying to get a reasonably-priced copy of that book for years, with no luck.
-Joe-


13 Apr 11 - 06:55 AM (#3134237)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

Just in case I'm not getting any replies. Refresh.


13 Apr 11 - 07:53 PM (#3134714)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1

So does anyone have any concrete information about the Grenadian folk version of this song? I'm holding out for information.


13 Apr 11 - 08:15 PM (#3134726)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenad
From: Gibb Sahib

Hello Morwen,

No, I am sorry I don't have any specific ideas right now. However, I find the topic interesting and had come back to this thread several times. I am interested in Caribbean music, but I mainly know about Jamaican stuff.

[Along those lines, I do know of a Jamaican mento song called "Brownskin girl," but it is different.]

Threads here often take a while to "develop." Oftentimes someone (years later!) will be thinking of the same question, and then discover this thread while searching. Then they will post something that will open up a new avenue. I (and I'm sure a few others) are watching this with interest, and waiting to jump in if they have an idea. I am sorry I don't have any spectacular idea right now, but now that I have a sense of what you're looking for, I (and others) are better "poised" :) to jump in if an idea pops up.

FWIW (and I'm sure you know this already) it often helps to familiarize yourself with other songs/music in the genre, and then ideas start to emerge -- i.e. rather than just focusing on one song. At least, it gives you something to do while waiting for answers!

Random thoughts... in African-American/Caribbean music, the epithet of "brown-skin girl" seems pretty common. It is complimentary; "brown" is, dubiously, considered more appealing than "black," and often implies a mulatto.
Since this phrase is common -- and possibly too general to give good results -- you may want to focus your searches on something more particular, like "mind your baby." I imagine that variations of this might conceivably say "Yellow Girl" or "downtown girl" or "Kingston girl" or etc etc.

girl/gal/gyal
baby/baybee/pickney


01 May 11 - 07:38 AM (#3145723)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

Refresh.


01 May 11 - 06:19 PM (#3146045)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

I did search for "mind your baby folk song" but what came up was more stuff on this.


02 May 11 - 07:45 AM (#3146359)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST

Go to the Musical Traditions site. Click on 'Articles'. At article 040, you will find a link to 'Kaiso Newsletters'. Follow the link and you will find an email address for Ray Funk. He is a world expert on calypso and it may be worth your while contacting him. Just a thought.

Musical Traditions

--Stewie.


03 Jun 11 - 07:55 PM (#3164925)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Mille Cozart Riggio, 2004, Carnival Culture in Action, The Trinidad Experience, attributes "Brown Skin Girl" to the Grenadines, "Sly Mongoose" to Jamaica, "Stone Cold Dead" to Barbados and L'Année passée to Martinique.
She teaches at Trinity College, Connecticut, and is quite kbnoledgeable on Caribbean culture. I haven't seen the book, the page on which her statement is made is on the net by Google. I don't know if she gives any details.

Radio King's 1946 song, with reference to North American sailors and made a hit by Belafonte, is the one with which most of us are familiar.


03 Jun 11 - 08:44 PM (#3164936)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

Q, she edited the book. The essays are written by "leading experts on carnival from around the world." Since the book is on Trinidadian carnival, I'm assuming that the experts have also extensively studied Trinidadian and Tobagan Carnival.


03 Jun 11 - 09:52 PM (#3164965)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Do any of the essays discuss Grenadine folk songs?


03 Jun 11 - 09:59 PM (#3164968)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

Incidentally, an academic who studies a particular subject is likely to know a lot about it. Even a person who isn't an academic but who has spent a while in a particular region, heard the songs, and has noticed that some songs share similar themes can know something about at least one song.


03 Jun 11 - 10:07 PM (#3164971)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

So the question becomes how to actually track down this Grenadian song? There is a book on the Big Drum Festival on Carriacou and Alan Lomax collected a series of Grenadian songs from people in 1942. However, most of the tracks on the Lomax album are in French Creole. Does anyone have an idea? I'm not aware of any Grenadian folk songbooks.

No specific discussion of Grenadian/Grenadiane songs in the book "Carnival Culture in Action."


03 Jun 11 - 10:09 PM (#3164972)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

EDIT: Sorry, that should be "Grenadine".


04 Jun 11 - 10:17 AM (#3165165)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: JedMarum

These are the lyrics Belafonte sings - and this credits Norman Span as composer.

BROWN SKIN GIRL
(Norman Span)

Edmundo Ros & His Orchestra


Everything to keep me from sleeping
A lot of sailor boys they were leaving
And everybody there was jumping
To hear the sailor boys in Alcora singing

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm going away in a sailing boat
And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby

Now the Americans made an invasion
We thought it was a help to the island
Until they left from here on vacation
They left the native boy here to mind their children

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby ....

Now I tell you the story bout Millie
She made a nice blue eyed baby
And they say she fancy the mother
But the blue eyed baby ain't know she father

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby ....

Now the Americans all have their pleasure
While the music play to their leisure
Everybody there they were jumping
To hear the sailor boys in Alcora singing

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm going away in a sailing boat
And if I don't get back
Stay home and mind baby


04 Jun 11 - 01:07 PM (#3165257)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Jim Dixon posted the Span-Belafonte lyrics back in Two thousand and ought two, thread 49484, linked at the top of this thread.

Norman Span was better known as King Radio, discussed above. He did a good version of Mathilda, also picked up by Belafonte. "His Man Smart but ..." is perhaps his best.
-----------------------

Warning- possible virus on Dominica radio sites, noted by my cable provider.


04 Jun 11 - 05:37 PM (#3165298)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

Q, did you find anything on Dominica radio sites?


04 Jun 11 - 06:02 PM (#3165299)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

Actually, I think Grenada would be a better bet than the Grenadines. Apparently there are a large amount of radio stations in Grenada. One or more of them could broadcast folk music.


04 Jun 11 - 07:26 PM (#3165310)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

"Alcora" should be "our chorus" in the Norman Span version.


04 Jun 11 - 10:43 PM (#3165332)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

"our chorus" correctly posted in the other thread.

Actually I did look for Grenada radio stations. Reggae for 2 hours daily at www.citysoundfm.com. Vintage on Wednesday.
The newspapers require subscription.


04 Jun 11 - 10:52 PM (#3165339)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Check my last post on the other thread. Any ideas as to a better version?


04 Jun 11 - 10:54 PM (#3165341)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

So, I'll be waiting to see if Q (or someone else) can subscribe to a Grenadian newspaper or listen to Grenadian radio to discover more leads. I am working on a school assignment due tomorrow, so I don't have much time to conduct my own research.


04 Jun 11 - 11:35 PM (#3165350)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

Q, re newspapers/magazines printing songs and poems- do you know if this a common practice in Britain as well as the US? I would think if it was a common practice in Britain, it would be a common practice in Grenada and other British colonies in the 18th and 19th century. This song caould only date from around that period or later, as it is in English. Grenada became a British colony in the 18th century- it was ceded to the Uk by the French in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. It became a crown colony in 1877, according to Wikipedia.


05 Jun 11 - 01:59 PM (#3165530)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Use of poems, etc. in papers is scattered. Some Scottish and English journals, as well as some in the U.S. and Canada also used them as filler, or accepted a few papers (very few) on specific material but the practice was never regularized, except in some of the literary journals.
Folk material was uncommonly used, since it was considered illiterate or of poor quality- and very few song-catchers were out there before the 20th C.

The practice depended upon editors and ownership policy, so some papers and journals never used them.

That is why a search is tedious and time-consuming, and possibly costly. Now that some journals and papers have been digitized, the searches are more easily done. Many, however, require a subscription.

I don't have the time or money to subscribe (except to Journal of American Folklore, which started in the 1880s and has articles on folk material from all over). The articles, of course, are mostly on UK and American and Canadian material, as would be expected.


05 Jun 11 - 05:10 PM (#3165614)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

So how are we meant to track this song down? I don't have the time to do it, either. Q, you could check the "Journal of American Folklore" and see if by some slim chance they have articles on Caribbean folk songs?


05 Jun 11 - 05:42 PM (#3165625)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

There are some, I think. A time-consumer, since I can't afford the index (not published by JAFL).

Why not just enjoy the song and not worry about provenance? That is my response.


06 Jun 11 - 12:58 AM (#3165778)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: MorwenEdhelwen1

Q, I could just enjoy the song, BUT- and this isn't meant to be sarcastic, so don't take it that way- why do origins threads exist if people don't wonder about the origins of songs? And once a suggestion that there might be something more to a song like this turns up, I'm curious enough to find out more.

Another thing. I'm starting to realise how really hard it must be to research something for years and years, yet it must be fun, too.


06 Jun 11 - 01:19 PM (#3166041)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

The 'origins' threads can locate (not always) original sheet music or a book with information- mostly using what can be found on the net, or find folk variants that have been handed down- nearly all UK-Irish or North American- little else. Several people here are very knowledgeable on UK-Irish-North American songs.

A few of us have a book or two that are hard to find or have become expensive, but interests are narrow- In my collection of songbooks, I have a couple of rare songbooks with calypso songs, and a lawyer son gave me Nizer's book on his court cases (Rum & Coca-Cola), but I have no personal contact with Caribbean culture. I have a few recordings, but my ear is poor for dialect.

Personaly, I have searched for the origin of some American songs- "My Pretty Quadroon" cost me $40 in donation and fees from a library with perhaps the only copy not lost in the Chicago fire, and another poem, from an archive with old pioneer newspapers, cost me a donation. I cannot afford to do that often.

A few people posting here have intimate access to large UK or U.S. libraries, but most of us would have to pay to access them.


22 May 14 - 03:50 PM (#3627697)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Dave Rado

Hi - I'm puzzled by the use of the word "fancy" in the third verse: "They say she fancy de mother". ("she" presumably referring to the daughter). In the UK to "fancy" someone means to desire them, but it couldn't mean that the daughter desires her mother. I'd the word "fancy" used to mean something else in Trinidad?


22 May 14 - 06:38 PM (#3627716)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

An old expression in the southern U. S., meaning she is much like her mother.
May apply to either sex; "he fancies his father."


22 May 14 - 07:23 PM (#3627723)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Dave Rado

Ah I wondered if it might mean something like that, thanks. I wonder whether it spread, in that meaning, from the US to Trinidad, or the other way round?

Dave


23 May 14 - 01:17 PM (#3627833)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Hard to tell direction. Possibly a part of plantation-owners and slaves language, and as such could be widespread in the Caribbean.


10 Jan 18 - 06:17 AM (#3898498)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Emmie

I saw many people are confused about the song John B. It was first written about in 1916 by an Englishman who had heard the song sailing on a schooner from Nassau to the Exumas in the Bahamas. He put the lyrics to the song in his book titled pieces of eight, and that book is where the lyrics come from. In the song you hear round Nassau Town, Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas. The song is a Bahamian folk song.


10 Jan 18 - 08:07 PM (#3898674)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Emmie: Check out this Mudcat "John B" thread. State of the art. Spared no expense.
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=32772

Note:
The book's author was Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947) however it was a reprint of his Coral Islands and Mangrove Trees piece for Harper's (New York.)

The song is Hoist the John B. Sails, a two step for piano, composed by Bostonian bandleader-violinist Ed W. Prouty in 1903 and dedicated to the citizens of Nassau, N.P., Bahamas.

The "Wreck Of" backstory was created in 1927 by the Shaw-McCutcheon families as part of the John B. - Canopus - Watchtower trilogy and made popular by Carl Sandburg's reprint in American Songbag. See here:
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=159532


11 Jan 18 - 03:38 PM (#3898922)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Emmie

This is new information for me but why would he compose a song about John B and dedicate it to the people of Nassau? A more simpler version must have already existed, and he may have turned it into a full song later. The version that was sung in The Bahamas must of been https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEfki4mZpcI&t=18s recorded in 1935 in Andros which was just a simple anthem.


11 Jan 18 - 04:00 PM (#3898927)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Emmie

I would also point out that sea chanteys have a long history in The Bahamas, likely originating since 1648 when it was re-inhabited by The Eleutheran Adventurers. The earliest mention I have found of these sailing anthems was mentioned by a Miss Hart an American woman who was living in Nassau Bahamas in 1823-1824.


12 Jan 18 - 02:02 PM (#3899147)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Emmie:

On shanties: Outside of the sponger era and a few mail packets, the Bahamas has never really had much of a local maritime so, one imagines they sang what the mainlanders sang at the time.

fyi: You might enjoy this recently started thread on Caribbean shantymen and womens:
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=162686

On John B & Prouty: I've replied in the main "John B" thread just to keeps things sorted here.


13 Jan 18 - 02:32 AM (#3899244)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Emmie

Phil d'conch are you kidding? The Bahamas has a huge maritime history. Bahamians were among the most prominent wreckers since the 17th century. Captain Ben Baker King of the Florida Wreckers. Bahamians participated in Privateering and Pirating throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. They were also widely considered the second best divers in the entire Americas after The Bermudians. https://archive.org/stream/travelsinconfede00schuoft#page/284/mode/2up/search/divers 18th century text.


13 Jan 18 - 02:53 AM (#3899245)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Emmie

There was also a local ship building culture dating back to the early 1700's. The ship building culture still exist in The Bahamas especially on the family islands, they mostly use the boats for the regattas. The Bahamas has even recently won the 2017 5.5 metre sailing championships, taking Gold and Silver. The Bahamas also has a gold medal in the star class at the olympics and another in the same class at the world championships.

Read this paragraph also from "Even the blacks" on page 301 if your comment is a racial one. https://archive.org/stream/travelsinconfede00schuoft#page/300/mode/2up/search/weekly+


13 Jan 18 - 04:52 AM (#3899260)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Emmie: Yes, there's all sorts of maritime small industry in the Bahamas. But not a maritime fleet like New England or Europe. There was a reason for all those wreckers. Tall ships did well to stay off the Bahamas Bank. British foreign office types had to layover in New York. The Bahamas never had a direct connection to England until air travel.

I grew up in the islands living aboard. Grand Bahama, Andros and Abaco mostly. Built my first boats there and qualified at UNESCO-Freeport (scuba) before they had a proper clubhouse.

I will say it's the only place I ever saw a genuine working fire bulgine in the wild. Never had cause to use it so no shantying, thank goodness.


13 Jan 18 - 07:40 AM (#3899299)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Emmie

The Bahamas had no where the population size of New England. There were about 5,000 people living there before the arrival of the loyalists. The Bahamas population nearly tripled after their arrival in the 1780's.

As the fleet is concerned if you are talking about a great many of ships that was Bahamian, I can assure you there were many ships of varying size that traveled to North America and throughout the Caribbean that were owned by Bahamians. Many Bahamians were wreckers but they also owned many merchant and fishing vessels as well. Again I wouldn't compare The Bahamas to New England or an entire continent like Europe but I assure for its size they were a very active maritime society.


16 Jan 18 - 10:17 PM (#3900096)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

I'm tempted to open a "Bahamiology" thread on subject drift guilt alone here but...

It's all relative. The same 800-pound gorilla that (almost) put up a Junkanoo-Carnival headlined by Janet Jackson had great-grandparents too.

On some islands, in season, the mainlanders outnumber the residents. Trying to distill one culture from the other is a fool's errand imo.

Take the most recorded version of Peas & Rice for example:

Words by Wolfe Gilbert, American by way of Zsarist Russia.
Music by Charles Lofthouse, born and raised in Nassau, the son of an American Methodist missionary.
Arranged by: John Johnson, American by way of the Bahamas and Haiti.

Love that cultural chowder, yum.


16 Jan 18 - 10:49 PM (#3900098)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Emmie

It is about historical context. For one take the song Mama bake the Johnny Cake christmas coming. Bahamians are one of the few people if not the only I know to bake Johnny Cake. How is that not in relation to Bahamian culture and have significance?

Charles lofthouse may have copyrighted the song in 1931 but the song was already in existence from 1921, at least the lyrics.

You have to understand what I am saying to you. These songs are based on Bahamian experiences, you can't say it has no significance because people visited The Bahamas or grew up hearing the songs and make them into records. The songs are still Bahamian in culture, history and experience, and that is what I think you are missing.


16 Jan 18 - 11:36 PM (#3900102)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Emmie

I think you are taking this tourist board narrative too far.

Tourist board would be a organization that look for promoters to bring people to the Bahamas. This doesn't mean the songs themselves haven't already existed and it doesn't mean American visitors didn't come to the islands hear the songs and take it back to their actively competitive culture in the USA which is full of copyrighting and publishing music a tradition which would not have been widespread if at all active in The Bahamas at the time.

The songs are Bahamian no one can argue that at all.


17 Jan 18 - 12:17 AM (#3900103)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Well... I am a conchy...

The culture, history and experience of a Bahamian "carnival" and Janet Jackson do escape me.

Sorting Lofthouse, Bahamian or American, may change the history books but the past, not so much.


17 Jan 18 - 02:05 AM (#3900105)
Subject: RE: Origins: Brown Skin Girl- folksong from Grenada
From: GUEST,Gerry

For what it's worth, Emmie, Johnny cakes are well-known in Australian folklore.