Wednesday 22 May, 2019

LOOP Independence Special: Folk Songs

Ellerslie Folk Group (Internet Image)

Ellerslie Folk Group (Internet Image)

Love, work life and tribulations- Bajans have a song for every sorrow under the sun.  

Folk songs are an integral part of Barbadian culture. They are used to pass down  stories and experiences through generations. Some folk songs were sang as nursery rhymes in children’s games while others were used as seduction tools by sweet-talking Bajan men. Others, more serious in nature, tell tales or murderous men and women.  


- John Belly MaMa 

A favourite among school-aged children with actions to go with each comical line.  

“John Belly Mama, dig the cassava 

John Belly Mama belly swell wid cassava” 


-See Muh Lil Brown Girl  

“See muh lil brown girl call she fuh me 

 Cause I want to go home”  


-Sugar Cane 

Conceptualized during the times when sugar ruled the Barbadian economy, this folk song is classic tune performed at most Independence celebrations.  

“Planters, planting sugarcane, the cane grow big and tall, 

 In the boiling sun or the pouring rain,

 Money for one and all” 



Courtships between Barbadian men and women are really something special and sweet.  


-The Standpipe Song 

This song shares a very uncomfortable story of a young girl and her experiences with street harassment.  


-Miss Mattie  

The entrepreneurial spirit of Miss Mattie persisted despite hard times.  

“Although she know the time so hard 

 She won’t keep outta Kendal yard” 


-King Ja Ja  

This folk song is tale of love between a real African King and a humble house maid in the 1890's. The King was exiled for five years in the West Indies and took up residence in a cottage in Two Mile Hill.  






[Internet Image]








“If yuh wan’ to live in sin 

 Get a lil house and put me in 

 But if yuh want to play the fool 

 Ah’ll get a big stick and keep yuh cool” 


-Millie Gon ta Brazil  

 The story of Poor Millie, who was murdered by her common-law husband, Bailey, sometime in the 1920’s is a heartbreaking story. Bailey tried to trick people into believing that Millie had travelled to Brazil but his misdeeds were soon discovered. He was found guilty and sentenced to hang.   

 “Wid the wire wrap round she waist and the razor cut up she face”


-Brudda Nelly  

 Falsely accused and imprisoned, Brudda Nelly got the short end of the stick from the local court system. Sometime around the 1900’s, he was caught in a compromising situation with a daughter of a white plantation manager. He was sentenced to four years with hard labour.  


-Cocoa Tea  

Some women would go to any lengths to keep a man, including spiking his tea. This folk song tell the story of a man under the spell of a powerful love potion.  

 “She got muh head upsided down 

 With a cup oh dat cocoa tea”








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