Atilla the Hun (calypsonian)

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Raymond Quevedo (24 March 1892 – 22 February 1962), better known as Atilla the Hun, was a calypsonian from Trinidad. He began singing in 1911 and was at his most prominent in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of the pioneers in spreading awareness of calypso beyond its birthplace in Trinidad and Tobago. Together with the Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) he brought calypso to the United States for the first time in 1934. One of his popular calypsos was "FDR in Trinidad", commemorating U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1936 trip to Trinidad.

Atilla competed in the first Calypso King contest in 1939, and won the title in both 1946 and 1947.[1]

Known as a defender of the poor, Atilla was able to transition to a political career. When several of his records were censored he composed "The Banning of Records", which was itself banned.

Atilla was the first calypsonian to hold elected public office; he was elected to the Port of Spain City Council in 1946 and was elected to the Legislative Council of Trinidad and Tobago in 1950 representing the St. George County East. (See: Elections in Trinidad and Tobago). He also authored Atilla's Kaiso: A Short History of Trinidad Calypso with John La Rose, published posthumously in 1983.

Atilla's Kaiso[edit]

1. Abolish The Control Board Poor people are suffering Conditions need re-adjusting All this woe and this misery Could be corrected so easily And happiness assured If the Government abolish the Control Board

Nothing in the market Every housewife with empty basket A most rotten situation The whole island faced with starvation WHile rice in Brazil on the wharves rottening And coffee in Colombia making by twins And we still seeing misery because of a big-head fool's inefficiency

The whole thing look suspicious They're not wanted in Barbados An a girlfriend told me Their name is mud in the B.G. In Grenada and St. Vincent people eating free Butter, cheese, ham and jam in quantity That we are fools they're assured To be so tied down by the Control Board

Now they've bough a white gentleman They call him a dietician I wonder what's his intention I already know I'm suffering from malnutrition I', hungry, starved-out, nothing to eat My head always dizzy, I can't lift my feet I'm underfed and so light I'm vexed if my girl touches me in the night

It's a most dirty situation The whole thing needs correction It's time to pull down this curtain And expose all this racketeering Cause the big shots are getting their groceries And their god-children many a fat salary Even merchants bawling out : Lord Please lift the weight of the Control Board

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Thompson, p. 5, 59

References[edit]

  • Hill, Donald R. 1993. Calypso: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad. University of Florida. (Includes a CD of early calypso music.)
  • Quevedo, Raymond (Atilla the Hun). 1983. Atilla's Kaiso: a short history of Trinidad calypso. University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. (Includes the words to many old calypsos as well as musical scores for some of Atilla's calypsos.)
  • Thompson, Dave (2002) Reggae & Caribbean Music, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-655-6