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  • Carnival, Calypso and Steel Pan: A Bibliographic Guide to Popular Music of the English-speaking Caribbean and its Diaspora by John Gray
  • Laura Donnelly
Carnival, Calypso and Steel Pan: A Bibliographic Guide to Popular Music of the English-speaking Caribbean and its Diaspora. By John Gray. Nyack, NY: African Diaspora Press, 2015. (Black Music Reference Series, vol. 6.) [496 p. ISBN: 978-0-98-441345-4. $124.95]

Carnival, Calypso and Steel Pan is an extensive annotated bibliography meant, along with the companion work from the same author, Jamaican Popular Music (2011), to act as a comprehensive reference guide to the music of the English-speaking Caribbean. With an impressive 3,420 annotated entries, this volume focuses on topics of Caribbean culture broadly associated with Trinidad (rather than Jamaica), including Carnival, calypso, and steel pan, with a timeline ranging from 1930 to the present day.

John Gray, author and independent scholar, has published several other bibliographic guides, including the aforementioned Jamaican Popular Music (2011), as well as From Vodou to Zouk (2010), its French-Caribbean counterpart, Afro-Cuban Music (2012), and Afro-Brazilian Music [End Page 44] 2014), among others, all from African Diaspora Press. Accordingly, this volume fits into Gray's larger goal of compiling, along with previous works by Dominique-René de Lerma and others, a comprehensive and interactive reference guide for researchers of the African diaspora.

The text is divided into five sections: Cultural History and the Arts, Caribbean Festival Arts, Music of the English-speaking Caribbean and its Diaspora, Regional Studies (divided by island, nation, or state), and Biographical and Critical Studies, a format that mirrors previous bibliographic guides from Gray. 'Cultural History and the Arts', the shortest section of the volume, serves as a starting point for researchers interested in the region. This section first provides a list of general works on Anglophone Caribbean culture and the arts, and then more specifically by island or diasporic site in the U.S. (Florida), Great Britain, and Canada. 'Caribbean Festival Arts', offers sources on Carnival and other processional and masquerade traditions from the Caribbean, as well as New York, Toronto, and London. 'Music of the English-speaking Caribbean and its Diaspora' provides a comprehensive list of musical sources of the Anglophone Caribbean and its diaspora. 'Regional Studies' includes sources centred on the Caribbean as a region and then lists regional studies texts by locale (single island, nation, or state). 'Biographical and Critical Studies' provides sources on steel pan musicians and calypsonians. After these sections, the volume includes a list of sources consulted in the process of compiling its entries, a list of helpful libraries and archives, as well as an appendix of performers (both individual and ensembles) by occupation, and another appendix of musicians listed by country of origin.

A bibliographic guide such as this one is only as useful as it is comprehensive, and this volume is definitively thorough across several parameters. The most impressive quality of this volume is its breadth, highlighted by the number of annotations, the variety of sources, its meticulous organisation, and use of detail. While Carnival, Calypso and Steel Pan lists the expected types of works for such a bibliography (academic monographs, edited volumes, journal articles, textbooks, and dissertations), it also lists valuable alternative types of sources including electronic resources, essays, song collections, children's books, reports, and other media. Furthermore, its use of detailed annotations is informative for prospective researchers. For example, in an entry for a report on cultural industries in CARICOM, Gray includes an annotation that the report 'examines the potential of the arts as a development tool for islands in the English-speaking Caribbean' (p. 2), and then highlights all music-relevant sections of the report, explaining that it 'includes sections on the music industry (pp. 32–57), the performing arts (pp. 135–155), and festivals (pp. 185–199)' (p. 2). This attention to detail is extremely helpful in the process of collecting and cultivating sources for a research project.

As a bibliographic guide, Carnival, Calypso and Steel Pan accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: provide a valuable research tool for those interested in beginning projects in non-Jamaican Anglophone Caribbean topics. Significantly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2471-156X
Print ISSN
0015-6191
Pages
pp. 44-45
Launched on MUSE
2021-04-22
Open Access
No
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