Henry Robert Antoine, head drummer in the Rada community
Henry Robert Antoine, head drummer in the Rada community


Location: Belmont, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
Dates: 1953, 1954
Formats: Lacquer disc and open reel tape
Accession Numbers: 70-159-F, 71-189-F

Passionate about art, culture, politics and natural history, Andrew Thomas Carr (1902-1976) was an award-winning folklorist and a cultural icon from Trinidad and Tobago. Carr was a native Trinidadian who worked with the Trinidad Building & Loan Association for 46 years, rising to become secretary-treasurer before his retirement in 1967. He worked extensively with the local arts and tourism sector, co-founding the Trinidad and Tobago Ethnographic Society dedicated to the study of the twin-island republic's folklore, the Trinidad Art Society, the Zoological Society and the Carnival Development Committee. He earned Fulbright scholarship in 1953 to pursue folklore studies at Northwestern University where he met and worked with Melville Herskovits.

ATM holds two collections of recordings made by Andrew Carr in Belmont, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.  In 1953 he made two 16” lacquer disc recordings of songs and drumming performed during cult ceremonies of the Rada community.  These became part of his article, "A Rada Community in Trinidad" (Caribbean Quarterly 3:1, 1953). The Rada are an ethnic group in Trinidad linked linguistically to Ewe-Fon peoples of Dahomey (now the Republic of Benin). Carr and the British sociologist Andrew Pearse also made a series of open-reel tape recordings of a night-long Rada ceremony in 1954. Ethnomusicologist Alan P. Merriam used Carr's recordings from this collection to write the book Songs of a Rada Community in Trinidad in 1956 with Sara Whinery and B.G. Fred. Many of Carr's extensive writings, memos, letters and reports have been included in his daughter’s 2010 book about his life entitled, He Served His Fellow Man–The Life & Work of Andrew Thomas Carr.

Sample: "Song to Dangbwe," May 6, 1953. This listening sample, sung by an unidentified singer, is devoted to the deity, Dangbwe (serpent deity), and was composed by Andrew George, who was a leader of the Rada community of Belmont, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, at the time of this recording.