The nation to kick off the Bs in our global series is a land of enchantment. The Bahamas, swaying in the Caribbean, was terra firma for Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas in 1492. Bahamas itself did not get the country designation until 1973, but it boasts a vibrant and controversial history, with tales of piracy, slavery and song. Its peoples, like many in the Caribbean and of African decent, play fast-paced and celebratory soca and calypso. Let’s explore some of the best musical offerings of the Bahamas (and no, the electro-folk project called Bahamas doesn’t count. One-man band Afie Jurvanen is Canadian).
“Let the rhythm take you over/Don’t be shy,” the sweet, flirtatious Wendy Lewis sings in “Happy Hour” over relentless percussion and a hint of electronica. Visage are affiliated with the rake and scrape movement, which promotes DIY by incorporating uncommon instruments like saws into the mix. They’re big supporters of soca, too— which is where the feverish drumming comes in. Visage has quite the pedigree— leader Obi Pindling is the son of former Bahamas Prime Minister Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling.
Expert storyteller Phil Stubbs stresses the concept of perseverance in “Proud To Be Bahamian.” The zippy tempo allays the deeper struggles within the lyrics, combatting racism and corruption. One can hear in his merry music a reverence for island life, an escape from the bleak everyday shuffle. For a gent who has worked as a police dog handler and a croupier, keeping things sunny and affable are his greatest assets.
She’s got the punchiness of Rihanna and M.I.A., the soul of Whitney Houston and the endearing shyness of early Janet Jackson. Sabrina is a top-notch pop machine, and music is in her veins. Her father gave Arrested Development a contract, and she’s a fan of everyone from Diana Ross to Frank Sinatra. She is a multi-multi hyphenate who dances, acts and drums, effortlessly going from dance hall furor (“Pull Up”) to bedroom balladry (“I’m Ready”). Feature photo copyright White Ocean Entertainment.
This is the kind of life-affirming music that draws thousands of visitors to the Bahamas every year. With a smiling front man who has the charisma of old-school rocker the Big Bopper, the Falcons pride themselves on being the ultimate party band. They’re part of a for-hire service that also includes a fire dancer and a coconut craftsman. Fun tunes, spectacular athleticism and artistry? Sign us up.
Cutting their teeth on Rage Against the Machine, funk and pop, these alternative rockers also use harmonica and keyboards to shape their image. It’s a fluid collective with different members coming and going over the years, but the Bahamian buzz is that Foreign Sound can do it all. We hear drummer Dominyc Rolle does a great Bruno Mars. These artists roll with the tide, with no influence going unrecognized.
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