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The History of the Calypso Association

By Ras Kelly Williams

The Dominica Calypso Association has been able to create the environment which has allowed calypso and calypsonians to flourish and bloom.

During the past two decades the calypso art form in Dominica, i.e. pure unadulterated calypso has, without doubt, attained the very highest levels in the region even surpassing presently, I dare say, the levels in the undisputed home of calypso Trinidad and Tobago where Soca’s ‘jump and wave’ has practically sent calypso to its grave.

Much accolade has been showered on the writers, the singers, etc., with very little credence having been attributed to the administration of the art-form.

The Liberator

The Dominica Calypso Association was formed in response to the intended interference and restrictions on the free expression of calypsonians by the then ruling government in 19XX. The Dominica Calypso Association was formed to provide representation and advocacy and also protection and guidance to very on involved in the art-form.

Although calypsonians had banded (bonded) together to fight the outside forces it took many more years before they were able to protect themselves form themselves.

The Eighties and early nineties which could be termed the tumultuous years of controversy and more controversy saw the art-form fall to levels where most right thinking Dominicans loathed being associated with the organization. I can recall the difficulties faced in trying to get Judges and even an accountant to work with the DCA.

It has always been the desire of calypsonians, still is today, to manage their own affairs. The artistic potential has always been there but the management capacity, or lack thereof, was definitely one of the problems in those turbulent times.

During the last decade calypso has been able to reach the heart and soul of most Dominicans and this is due in great measure to the stability and performance of the dedicated ‘manage men’ team of the DCA guided by what has often been referred to as the ‘Kaiso Karterl’.

The DCA has been able to create the environment which has allowed calypso and calypsonians to flourish and bloom.

This was not always an easy task as calypsonians are generally free thinking and strong headed even when they are wrong. It took very stern management to temper and then harness heir creative energies which could then be channeled to their performance. This could only have been done by persons who could understand and tolerate calypsonians and that is calypsonians themselves.

The early nineties saw the legalization of the DCA and this brought with it the rules and regulations necessary to manage the organization in a professional manner. This made it legal for the DCA to get into contracts with other organizations on behalf of its members.

The Executive Management Committee is made up of nine persons elected by the general body at Annual General

Calypso House in Bath Estate

Meetings where financial and others reports are given. The DCA Exec. Comm. maintains a very high level of transparency (to its members) in its undertakings and beckons to the wishes of its members. This over the years created a level of trust which has allowed for less in-fighting and controversy and more peace and with peace came prosperity.

Every year during the national Carnival season the DCA is charged with producing what is easily the biggest show of local performers.

Because of the magnitude and consistent growth of the events DCA Management where necessary brings in support staff and volunteers to assist in producing the shows as with growth comes the need for additional human resources and management skills.

Today because of the high levels of efficient management and the supportive respect of the public which has been attained by the administration of the DCA affairs it is much easier to get support as people are more apt to want to identify with success.

It is because of the recognition of the efficient management of the DCA that brands like Heineken and b-Mobile became confident enough to partner with the DCA as major sponsors of its programs.

It was with much pride that I accepted the comment from the holder of the very highest office in the land when he remarked after a calypso Finals show that the DCA should be given to organize some high level official functions. This was probably testimony to the efforts of the administration of DCA.

In conclusion let me point out that although it is the artiste who is seen on stage the stage must be built and prepared – and this is the function of the ADMINISTRATION of the DOMINICA CALYPSO ASSOCIATION.

Article Source: Lyrics & Melody published by Ian Jackson

Ras Kelly Williams is the president of the Dominica Calypso Association. He has held this position for the past eighteen years. Ras Kelly is also a calypsonian known as Ghost.

2 comments to History

  • iam proud of our achivement,knowing i was the first vice president,ihope to return home in the near future,to continue to make my contribution,and let history record it truthfully,presantly iam the acting president of st.criox calypsoians and musicians association(SCMA)in co.with calypso inc.the success of DCA have made recognize my potencial,a prophet has no honour in his own country.iam looking forward to a strong relationship between our organizations,jah bless.

  • Kyle and Svet,The Calypsonians both sang and composed auhtolgh not all of them composed. Mighty Sparrow, for instance, was a very prolific composer and has many calypsos to his credit, Jean and Dinah, etc. Lord Invader is credited with Rum and Coca Cola, and the list goes on. Check out these names on Youtube and you will be entertained with their songs as well as their lyrics.RR

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