The music of Barbados is similar to that of other islands in the Caribbean. A lot of its music is mainly influenced by Trinidad and Tobago (like calypso) but also Jamaica, ultimately stemming from various African styles. Like Antigua and Barbuda, British music also has its influences in its music and dance.
Tuk bands consist of double-headed bass drum, flute, triangle, and a snare drum, and sometimes a pennywhistle or fiddle. Tuk bands have their basis in the colonial British military bands. However, the musicians borrow from African traditions and perform dressed in costumes based on different characters.
Spouge (also spelled as spooge) is a type of music that is like a cross between ska (one of my absolute favorite genres of music!) and calypso. Dalton Bishop (performing as Jackie Opel) created the genre in the 1960s. It got really popular really quickly, and has been thought of as Barbados' version of Jamaican ska. However, Bishop died at the age of 32.
Folk music, heavily influenced by both traditional British music as well as African music, is also the music of many folk dances as well. Latin, jazz, and East Indian rhythms and influences also can be heard in various folk songs.
Dancing has been a part of Barbadian culture since the beginning. Many of these dances are performed at festivals which include Crop Over or at Landship (more of an informal performance organization, specializing in cultural arts). The Jean and Johnnie dance, an important dance in Barbados' history, was actually a fertility dance, where men and women could show off to each other. However, it was banned in the 19th century for what the British associated with "non-Christian African traditions."
Most Barbadian music is centered around percussion. It's like the center piece on the table. And at the head and foot of the table are string instruments and wind instrument. Many of these instruments are made from natural materials, like shells, wood, etc.
If there is one popular singer whose name keeps coming up over and over and over again when I did practically every search about Barbados, it would be international superstar Rihanna. Now while I wouldn't say I'm a HUGE fan of hers, I do like a lot of her songs (like the song "Disturbia." For some reason, I'm just not tired of that song. Yet.). I do admire her many hairstyles, many of which I could never get away with. She made huge headlines a few years ago, not for her many awards, but for her tumultuous relationship with Chris Brown, for which she was also recently criticized for her still-palpitating feelings for Brown. However, she's so popular in her native Barbados that a few years ago, they gave her her own day (which fell on her birthday.)
Another musician with ties to Barbados is Grandmaster Funk, who was born in in Bridgetown but grew up in the South Bronx in New York. He's been credited with the invention of the crossfade, basically a switch from one turntable to another. My husband, my local expert on all things hip/hop and house music, doubts that, but thinks maybe he was just one of the ones who exclusively used it first. He was, however, inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 as the first hip-hop/rap artist.
Up next: the food!