Calypso in Trinidad
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Calypso Artists: Biographies

Neville Marcano (Growling Tiger)

The Growling Tiger (1915-1993) was a member of the great generation of calypsonians of the 1930s. Initially known as a boxer, he became interested in calypso and began performing in tents in 1935. That same year he was selected to travel from Trinidad to New York with Atilla the Hun and Lord Beginner to record for Decca. He subsequently made many other recordings for both Decca and Victor's Bluebird label. In 1938 he won the first major Calypso King competition with "Try and Join a Labor Union."

Best known for the calypsos "Money is King" (on economic inequality) and "The Gold in Africa" (about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia), Tiger was fearless in his social and political commentary. On the other hand, he recorded a lighter song, "Don't Le' Me Mother Know," in 1935 with Atilla and Beginner ("The Kiskedee Trio"). Also called "Take Me to Los Iros," the song became well known throughout the Caribbean and in the U.S. It was recorded in the 1950s by various artists, including Hazel Scott, the Charmer (later known as Louis Farrakhan) and the Duke of Iron.

Tiger was a stalwart in the Old Brigade tent into the 1950s. He retired from the tent in 1959, after singing a calypso that was critical of Eric Williams, then Chief Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Folklorist Alan Lomax recorded him on a Caribbean fieldtrip in 1962 and was instrumental in bringing him to the U.S. to perform at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966. In 1979 researcher Steve Shapiro produced a recording session with Tiger in New York for Rounder Records.

Growling Tiger

CD cover
Tiger album

Next: Lancelot Pinard (Sir Lancelot)