Popular Music: Identity, Social Change and Human Rights: Responses from Trinidad’s Calypso Music

Meagan Sylvester, The University of the West Indies:

Popular music has had a relationship with the attainment of human rights in myriad ways which have been inclusive of: the right to demonstrate the individual will; the right to develop some measure of self-determination and; the right to encourage the citizenry to charge forward towards goals for social change. This paper explores the lyrics and the narrative web of Calypso Music through the discursive themes of Music as Identity and Music as Social Change as applied to issues of human rights. Undertaking a thematic analysis of the written texts of selected Calypsos The Calypsos described in this paper and the lyrics analysed have expressed how music can be mediated in the public space which can in turn produce considerable complexity while highlighting the nexus among Popular Music, Identity, Social Change and Human Rights while simultaneously addressing the relationships and between musical meaning, social power and cultural value.

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