Bahamian Culture is far from dead. New Artists are not reinventing the wheel…just re-innovating it.
As creative as they are resourceful, many Bahamians express their artistic nature through their colorful art, infectious music or exuberant dancing.
Taking their inspiration from the beauty of their people and their islands, much of the local artwork is bright, bold and strikingly original. Music is also in the very bones of the people. African rhythms, Caribbean Calypso, English folk songs, and the uniquely Bahamian ‘Goombay’ (the Bantu word for rhythm, which also refers to the type of goatskin drum used to produce the rolling rhythmical beat) echo in the air. Rake and scrape bands have been playing Goombay music since the time of slavery, when with few resources, bands fashioned their drum out of a pork barrel and goatskin, scraped a metal file over a carpenter’s saw, made maracas from seed pods and played a home-made bass violin (a washtub with a string through it that was tied to a three-foot stick).
Dances such as the Bahamian Quadrille and the Heel and Toe Polka are accompanied by rake and scrape music, although today’s bands use saxophones, electric guitars or other instruments in addition to saws and Goombay drums. To hear a louder, more boisterous version of Goombay music, join the famous ‘Junkanoo’ celebrations, where you’ll get to watch the parade participants ‘rushin’ and perform the Jump-In-Dance. At times outside the regular – and frequent – festivals, many people consider the best expressions of Bahamian culture are the religious hymns which resemble the American slave songs brought to The Bahamas during the Loyalist period, and the congregational gospel singing (in all but the strictest churches), which is accompanied by hand clapping and spiritual dancing.