Many Bahamians have an artistic side,
which they express through their colourful art, infectious music or
exuberant dancing. When you visit The Bahamas, take time to view the
local artwork. Not surprisingly, you'll see brightly coloured art that
reflects the beauty of the people and their islands.
Some artists -- like Amos Ferguson, Maxwell Taylor and
Stan Burnside -- have attained international acclaim. Ferguson's works
are on permanent display at the Pompey Museum in Nassau.
Baha Men a few years ago won a Grammy Award
for Best Dance Recording!
No matter what adventures you enjoy during your trip to the Bahamas,
one of the most unforgettable memories youll take home with you is the sound of
island music. From world-famous Reggae and Calypso to native Junkanoo and Rake n Scrape bands, the music of the Bahamas
is a joyful celebration unlike any other!
Junkanoo is without a doubt the most popular style of
music youll hear in the Bahamas, because its been
around for hundreds of years and is a vital part of the heritage of the islands. Some say
the word derives from the name of a freed slave, John Canoe, but others insist that it
comes from the word "junk"the discarded cans and materials used to create
instruments for the first Junkanoo
celebrations in the 18th
century. A Junkanoo
"rush" is a slow march
accompanied by Junkanoo
rhythm and percussion instruments,
and many hotels feature a 5- or 10-minute rush through their restaurant or main lobby at
least once a week.
Dont head home without dancing to a Rake n Scrape
band, another trademark style of Bahamas music featured at
many local clubs. The bass instrument is created from a piece of wood, some fishing line,
and a worn tin tub. A conch shell is used as a horn, an old comb covered with paper serves
as a harmonica, and an old carpenters saw is scraped with a piece of metal to
produce a truly unique melodic sound. The rhythm is provided by drums made of goatskins
stretched over wood and heated over a flame. Rake n Scrape
instruments are a good example of the ingenuity of islanders in using materials at hand to
make whatever they need. A visit to the Bahamas wouldnt
be complete without hearing them!
Native music has a long and colorful history in the Bahamas.
When Freeport began developing its reputation as an exotic
vacation hotspot, the musicians of Grand Bahama made their
living by playing Calypso standards and other popular island
songs favored by tourists.
They entertained hotel visitors around poolsides during the day
and in lounges at night. The "father" of this musical trend was Gil Robinson of
Eight Mile Rock, whose witty, distinctive musical style and skill in working an audience
influenced many musicians. His protégé, Marvin Henfield, is an internationally known
entertainer who has opened for many renowned performers. If youre planning a trip to
the Bahamas, be sure to include an evening at the Club Tropicana to enjoy his must-see show.
Many other musicians have contributed their distinctive sounds to the islands
music and carried those sounds around the world. "Calypso Rose" Simmons displays
her many talents in "The Calypso Rose Revue," a variety show at WRLK. Lil
Joe Cartwright is the star attraction at the Port Lucaya Marketplace,
where the open-air Count Basie Square bounces to a tropical
rhythm every evening with mini Junkanoo
dancing, and a wide variety of local entertainers. And the sounds and rhythms of the
Bahamas are enjoying worldwide acclaim thanks to the Bahamas
own Grammy-winning Baha Men, whose vivid costumes and music reflect the festive carnival
You can sample various flavors of island music at discos and nightspots such as the
Arawak Dining Room in Lucaya, where the duo of Ozzy &
Elliot performs jazz tunes. The Yacht Club Pub at the Green Turtle Club on Abaco features the smooth Bahamian sounds of the legendary Estin
Sawyer, and the number one band in the nation, the Gully Roosters Band, performs under the
stars every Wednesday night. They guarantee to get you out of your seat and dancing to the
latest hits from the Bahamas and Caribbean.
Come enjoy some melodic fun in the sun in paradise! Your visit to the Bahamas will fill your mind with images of sparkling white beaches,
smells of exotic tropical flowers, and tastes of barbecue and fried fish. But underneath
it all, your heart will be dancing to the rhythm of the music of the islands!
For more information on individual Bahamian artists
and their art, see The
Bahamas Association for Cultural Studies website.