Barbados is home to a wonderfully vibrant music and art scene dating all the way back to the 16th Century. From the festive tones of Calypso to the symphonic sound of Classical, Bajan music covers a diverse range of genres and is intertwined with the isle's rich history and culture.

On the other hand, the art scene is thriving. Barbadian artists capture the breathtaking environments around them while performers and writers create moving productions. Not only that, but institutions such as the Barbados Museum and Historical Society keep iconic masterpieces alive for you to view.

So, to discover everything this Caribbean Island has to offer culturally, we've put together this short guide to help you get the most out of your tropical adventure.

The Music of Barbados

Barbados music is inspired by a mixture of African and British styles. Born out of African slaves parodying the practices of white authorities in the 17th Century, it's since evolved into an important symbol of Barbadian identity. Known for distinctive folk and popular music, these genres include the following...

1. Calypso

Originally a Trinidad artform derived from the 17th Century, Barbados Calypso captured the hearts of Barbadians in the 1970s when Crop Over season revived public interest. Defined by its highly rhythmic and harmonic vocals, you'll be dancing to the addictive beats on beautiful Barbados beaches in no time!

Speaking of beaches, you can listen to Calypso on white sands or the streets during Crop Over itself. Famous artists to have performed at the music festival include the likes of Romeo, Mighty Grynner and King Pompey who each bring something entirely unique to the table. After enjoying the incredible performances from some of the best Barbados music artists, relax at Sandy Lane or Cobblers Cove.

2. Soca

Merging the traditional Barbadian Calypso style with Indian instrumentals gives you Soca - a genre of music featuring a combination of synthesised sounds and electronically mixed effects. Barbados music artists Alison Hinds, Rupee and Red Plastic Bag popularised the form of music during the 2000s, their songs since becoming hits at local night clubs and beach parties.

Another genre performed at Crop Over, you can dance to the fast tempo and catchy melodies before discovering a host of immersive experiences. Whether that be a Mount Gay Rum Tour or Lone Star Dining Experience, your time on the island will be nothing short of unforgettable. Then, during the evening, why not relax at the luxurious Coral Reef Club or Turtle Beach hotel?

3. Reggae

In the 20th Century, Reggae music in Barbados took off following independence in 1966. Characterised by its slow tempo and heavy basslines, the popular music genre features Barbadian musicians Eddy Grant, Rayvon and Dennis Bovell whose influence has carried over into Caribbean culture.

There's always a chance you'll stumble upon a street party playing Reggae in Barbados, but the most likely source of live music would be in bars or clubs. On top of this, Barbados Reggae Festival is an amazing event celebrating the genre and its artists. Following a day of listening to this laid-back form of music, the luxury Fairmont Royal Pavilion or Colony Club provide an array of indulgent facilities for you to enjoy.

4. Spouge

The rise of Spouge took place in the 1960s. Created by Jackie Opel, the kinds of Spouge include Raw Spouge and Dragon Spouge - the former being typically attributed to Draytons Two and the latter inspired by Winston 'Cassius Clay' Yearwood. Along with these musicians, The Mighty Gabby is also synonymous with the genre, which is a fusion of Calypso, Ska, and Soul music.

Live music in Barbados typically doesn't feature Spouge as it's been a declining art form since the death of Opel in 1970. But you may come across the upbeat tempo and catchy melodies during festivals or beach parties. The best beaches include Treasure Beach for families and the beachfront resort of Saint Peter’s Bay for sunbathing. Although you may not hear Spouge, your stay will be nothing but relaxing.

5. Jazz

Born out of American Jazz in the 19th Century, the Barbadian Jazz scene was popularised by Barbadian Jazz musicians Courtney Pine, Arturo Tappin and Dwight Trible. The improvisational nature and use of syncopated rhythms means its often used to express many emotions, from joy to sadness and anger.

There are many clubs on the island that feature Barbados live music. Sugar Bay is nearby the Jazz district should you want to enjoy fantastic evening entertainment, and The Sandpiper is in close proximity to more further north. The popular music genre is perfect for a restful break. So, with a choice of luxury resorts, incredible experiences and sumptuous restaurants, you'll never want to leave this beautiful island.

6. Classical

For something a little different, Classical music is more than ideal for elevating your holiday experience. Having originated in 17th Century Europe, the Barbados music scene has since adopted the complex harmonies and melodies in annual events such as Barbados Classical Music Festival. The tones are used to express a sense of beauty or grandeur and the rhythm soothes the soul.

After a marvellous performance, soak in this popular music with a spa and wellness experience at O2 Beach Club & Spa or The House by Elegant Hotels. Home to holistic treatments and indulgent facilities, the resorts in Barbados provide everything you need for a dream escape. Then, following your tranquil stay, discover the incredible art scene Barbados is famed for developing.

Explore the Barbados Art Scene

Along with a vibrant music culture, Barbados also has a thriving art scene. From stunning sculpture work to incredible oil paintings and more, you'll uncover a range of Barbados arts throughout the tropical island.

Barbados Museum and Historical Society houses 500,000 artefacts with fine art from Wedgewood and important documents recording the local area's incredible history. Barbados National Trust works hard to protect the natural and built heritage while Barbados Arts Council is the hub of well-versed creatives. Altogether, there are nine museums and 15 art galleries for you to explore during your travels.

For the best art experience possible, stay at Crystal Cove - a perfectly situated mini village resort in Bridgetown. The Barbadian capital features more art galleries and museums than anywhere else, with Queen's Park Gallery and Exchange Museum providing incredible art pieces and exhibits throughout.

Looking for a tailor-made music and arts experience?

A trip to Barbados is incomplete without immersing yourself in the tropical island's diverse culture, and integral to that is the live music and art scene. From listening to live music on white sands to learning about the area's phenomenal history, you can enhance your understanding of this great Caribbean island.

Speak to one of our Travel Specialists today and you can start planning your perfect Barbados adventure with unforgettable memories involving the best music and arts experiences.

Why we're the Barbados experts
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