Note: Notes from Rounder Records release "Calypso At Midnight" read: "This is a Spiritual Baptist song. Spiritual Baptists were derisively called 'Shouters'; their faith dates from the nineteenth century and may have originated in St. Vincent, although there is evidence of related wake ceremonies in Trinidad as early as 1848. Some Spiritual Baptists combine Protestant Christian ideas with Yoruban beliefs. Many of the sacred songs are adapted from Protestant hymnals such as the gospel books of Ira D. Sankey and Dwight D. Moody. The St. Vincent version of the religion spread to Trinidad, possibly in the late 1800s, and was proscribed by the British from 1917 to the 1950s. 'Happy Land of Canaan' was first recorded on May 17, 1921 for Victor by Johnny Walker, a Trinidad vaudevillian (called a comedian on the island). The vocalization by Lord Invader is termed doption by believers. Musically, it is similar to trumpeting or trumping, as it is termed in Jamaica, and is used to bring on possession. In this number, the performers mimic the experience."
About the session: A live recording of "Calypso At Midnight," a concert held at Town Hall, New York City, on December 21, 1946. Learning that Town Hall could be rented cheaply after regular theater hours, Alan Lomax produced a late-night concert series called The Midnight Special, which was thematically organized as "Blues At Midnight," "Ballads At Midnight," etc., and sponsored by the People's Songs Collective. The calypso concert recordings, made at Lomax's request and later found by chance in a closet by Bess Lomax Hawes, may be the only extant documents of this series. "This concert is a fascinating document of an American presentation of Trinidadian calypso at a time when interest in the genre was spreading from New York City into the mainstream of popular music in the United States" (Donald R. Hill and John H. Cowley, Calypso At Midnight [Rounder CD 1860])
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