Lionel Belasco

Lionel Belasco was the Scott Joplin of calypso: he composed West Indian music from folk sources, which he found on his many travels throughout the islands, and was the first person to popularize calypso outside of Trinidad. Piano player, bandleader, composer, and entrepreneur, Belasco recorded more West Indian songs before World War II than any other performer.

A musical pioneer, Lionel Belasco was born in Barbados in 1881 and raised in Trinidad. During his youth, he learned to play European classical music on the piano but was drawn to the traditional music that was all around him, especially Afro-Trinidadian genres.

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