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Culture of St Kitts Nevis

The culture of St. Kitts and Nevis, two small Caribbean islands forming one country, has grown mainly out of the West African traditions of the slave population brought in during the colonial period. French and British colonists both settled the islands, and for a period of time the British imported indentured Irish servants. The native Caribs, skilled warriors, defended their lands by attacking the colonies. But by 1782, the British had gained control of St. Kitts and Nevis, which they retained until granting the islands their independence in 1983. British influence remains in the country's official language, English, while some islanders speak an English-based Creole. The influence of the French, Irish, and Caribs seems less pronounced.

The people of St. Kitts and Nevis are devoutly religious. Several historic Anglican churches remain on Nevis, and fifty percent of the country's population still practices the religion. Most other people belong to another Christian denomination, though there are some Rastafarians and Bahá'í followers. An old Jewish cemetery on Nevis proves that there was once a Jewish population as well, but currently there's no active Jewish community in the country.

Music of St Kitts Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis is an island nation in the Caribbean, known for a number of musical celebrations including Carnival (December 17 to January 3 on Saint Kitts). 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.

In addition, there are other festivals on the island of Saint Kitts. There is Inner City Fest in February in Molineaux Green Valley Festival usually around Whit Monday in village of Cayon, Easterama around Easter (April) in village of Sandy Point, Fest-Tab, around July-August in the village of Tabernacle, and La festival de Capisterre, around Independence Day in Saint Kitts and Nevis (19 September), in the Capisterre region. These celebrations typically feature parades, street dances and salsa, jazz, soca, calypso and steelpan music.

Traditional music

The most well-known kind of traditional music is probably seasonal Christmas songs, though there also chanteys and other songs. Music is also a part of the Tea Meetings which are common on the island, featuring a pair of stentorian male singers in a competitive kind of performance in which hecklers play an important role.

Carnival music

Carnival in Saint Kitts and Nevis features music quite prominently. Big Drum and string bands accompany folk performers. Other instruments include shack-shack (a tin can with beads inside), baha (a blown metal pipe), triangle, fife, guitar and quarto.

Iron bands were introduced to Saint Kitts and Nevis' Carnival in the 1940s, when bands used makeshift percussion instruments from the likes of car rims. Ensembles of local, collaborative musicians formed during this era, playing drums, saxophones, bass guitars and trumpets; these included the Silver Rhythm Orchestra, Brown Queen, Music Makers, Esperanza and Rhythm Kings. The following decade saw the introduction a Trinidadian style called steelpan, brought by Lloyd Matheson, C.B.E., then an Education Officer. The first steelpan band was Roy Martin's Wilberforce Steel Pan. Other bands included the Eagle Squadron, Boomerang, Casablanca, Boston Tigers and The Invaders. Modern Carnival in Saint Kitts and Nevis did not begin until the late 1950s. In the 1960s, brass bands dominated first Carnival, then much of popular music.

Calypso

Calypso is a style of music from Trinidad and Tobago, consisting of highly lyrical songs that frequently makes topical comments on the ruling classes and social issues of the day.

Calypso music originated in West Africa, and was introduced in the Caribbean during the slave trade by slaves who lived on the sugar plantations.

During slavery, calypso was used for commentary against the oppression and brutal treatment suffered by the slaves at the hands of their masters. This form was called Caiso (Ka-ee-sow) meaning "the town cry", while the singer/composer was called the "Caisonian". This singing was then nicknamed "calypso" by the European slave masters, who called it after the mythological sea nymph calypso because of its melodic ability to captivate its listeners.

The caisonians were then pressured by their masters to sing songs to entertain them in return for certain privileges and an ease of tasks, and for money during the post-emancipation period.

Calypso was subsequently commercialized in Trinidad, where it was sung mainly for entertainment in shows called "calypso tents" during the Trinidad carnival celebrations. (Unreferenced)

From Trinidad, calypso spread across the Caribbean, and became a major part of Kittitian (or Kittian) music with the introduction of formal calypso competitions in the 1950s. Prominent early calypsonians from this period included Mighty Kush, Lord Mike, Elmo Osborne, Lord Harmony, King Monow and the Mighty Saint. By the 1980s, calypso had begun to peak in popularity on Saint Kitts and Nevis, while the two dominant performers were the rivals Starshield and Ellie Matt.

Heroes of St Kitts Nevis (Robert Bradshaw)

Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw (16 September 191623 May 1978) was a labour activist, Chief Minister and Premier of the island of Saint Kitts in the Caribbean Sea. It was his dream to see the country an independent nation.

Bradshaw was born in the village of Saint Paul Capisterre on the island of St. Kitts, and attended school in the same village.

He supported the cause of the sugar workers, and was one of the political stalwarts of the country. He entered politics in 1946 and won a seat in the Legislative Council and later became a member of the Executive Council. In 1956 he was Minister of Trade and Production for St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. During in the short-lived West Indies Federation (from 1958 to 1962), Bradshaw was elected to the Federal House of Representatives and held the post of minister of finance for the Federation.

After the break-up of the Federation, Bradshaw returned to St. Kitts from Trinidad. In 1966 he became Chief Minister, and in 1967 the first Premier of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, now an associated state of Britain. Under his leadership, all sugar lands as well as the central sugar factory were bought by the government. Opposition to Bradshaw's rule began to build, especially by the families of former estate owners, who founded the People's Action Movement party in 1964, after frustration over a failed demonstration against a raise in electricity rates. Opposition was especially great in Nevis, where it was felt that the island was being neglected and unfairly deprived of revenue, investment and services by its larger neighbour. Bradshaw mainly ignored Nevis' complaints, but Nevisian disenchantment with the Labour Party proved a key factor in the party's eventual fall from power.

In 1977 he went to London for independence talks with the United Kingdom government.

He died in May 1978 of prostate cancer, and was succeeded by his former deputy, Paul Southwell. The country's Robert Bradshaw International Airport is named in his honour. In 1997 he was named the first national hero of St. Kitts and Nevis, and National Heroes Day is celebrated on his birthday.


To many he was known as Finny Hand Bradshaw. Also Papa bradshaw because many consider him to be the father of the nation.

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