Some old time Grenadian traditions have almost disappeared and new ones have evolved or imported from neighbouring countries. I remember when I was a little boy growing up in Grenada people used to serenade on the streets singing with live string bands and Tambo Bamboo music in the villages during the Christmas season and they were welcomed by every family, as they serenaded going from home to home. This was the Grenada I can remember.
However, nowadays things and times have changed. No more choral singing bands at night going to the villages and sing for the people.
We, the mainland Grenadians, are neglecting our serenade culture that we inherited from the French tradition because we like anything that is foreign to Grenada. So, we paranging now! We stop serenading.
Now, these days we have soca parang too but we do not have a Spanish settlement in Grenada and we never had Spanish immigrants as in Trinidad. Very few Grenadians have Spanish surnames and Spanish bloodline in our veins. We never had “Cocoa Panyols” speaking people who migrated from Venezuela to Grenada but we still have the old French Creole culture mixed up with our dominant African culture and a bit of British influence.
On the sister islands Carriacou and Petite Martinique, the residents preserved every aspect of their culture, while we on the mainland keep imitating new cultures from foreign countries and ignoring ours.
Some of us on the mainland even copying foreign accents too, to make us feel that we are super intelligent, but deep down inside us, we like melee and people business.
We cannot deny it. It is a known fact. A lot of us like melee and people business, so we stop serenade in our old time tradition style.
Now, we prefer melee parang, which is traditional music culture from the sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. So, now we are into the melee parang culture.
On the other hand, there are some Grenadians who like to criticise anything that is new to them and label it as bad, without taking their time to find out why new things have evolved in our tri-island state.
However, I personally understand why melee parang dominates the entertainment celebration during the Christmas activities season. The fact is that young people want to be Grenadians.
As for the extempo style in the melee parang, we must give the artists a big round of applause for their creativity. For example, the way they freestyle their words with the lyrics shows they are creative. In addition, most likely it will expand the activities of their thinking skills, as they create the ability to store and retrieve the lyrics in their brains.
But then again, the big question is: How the term “Melee Parang” gets into the Carriacou and Petite Martinique residents’ culture?
There are no Spanish-speaking people on those islands. However, they have the old tradition of creating melee just as us on the mainland Grenada. They are very proud of their indigenous culture more than we on the mainland. On the other hand, they have the most talented string bands musicians in quality and quantity. So, that could be the reason why they coined the word “Parang” into their genre of music because parang bands in Trinidad play live instruments too.
Furthermore, they still keep the old tradition of serenading during the Christmas season, while we on the mainland almost stopped serenading. For example, I remember in the mid 1970s, when some mainlanders were copying and imitating the rockers Christmas reggae music culture from Jamaica, but it did not last. The younger generation of Grenadians prefers the melee parang because the lyrics and picong is part of their Grenadian heritage.
So, due to the fact that the culture of music keeps on evolving I think it is very important for the young people to know that their activities of celebration during the Christmas season are different from our time.
On the other hand, we must congratulate the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique for preserving their rich culture of string band music and musicians. Their musical influence is very popular in the celebration of Christmas in our Tri-Island state throughout the month of December.
However, over the years some mainland artists have learned to master the melee paring music culture with their slightly different flavour as part of the musical evolution.
Therefore, persons who are involved in the entertainment business industry such as our deejays, owners of radio stations and others who are financially benefiting from the industry must say thanks to the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique for creating this unique genre music melee parang.
So you see how things and times have changed eh! Carriacou and Petite Martinique are small in size but their contribution is great. I am begging mainlanders to learn from the sister islanders and stop imitating foreign cultures. I am pleading to them to stop bleaching our rich Grenadian culture. Go back to the roots. Bring back the serenade culture in the Christmas season.
(Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers)