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Bahamian Arts, Craft, and Music

Records on the wall of a cafe

There is a lot to be inspired by in The Bahamas from the friendly community members to the ocean shimmering in the sunshine and all the delicious cuisine and nature in between. Music, arts, and crafts in The Bahamas have developed through our rich diversity, much like the cuisine, which we have written about before. And like our cuisine, the arts play an important role in Bahamian culture, particularly on holidays, where we celebrate our traditions and histories. So let’s dive right into the various artforms and get to know each of their backgrounds. If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Bahamian culture, food tours, or some exciting shore excursions from Freeport, Bahamas, take a look at our tours or get in touch with us today, we are always happy to chat!

Arts & Crafts

The more traditional art styles that exist in The Bahamas are straw weaving, wood carving, and coral and stone art. Straw weaving initially existed as a way to transport fruits or vegetables and for fishing traps, using palm fronds or palmetto leaves to intricately weave beautiful designs. Over time, the practice became less necessary due to industrialization but the beauty of the works has stood the test of time, becoming a popular tourist commodity. Nassau’s Straw Market is a famous place filled with open-air stalls selling baskets, hats, purses, furniture, and souvenirs. However, the islands most known for their straw weaving are the Out Islands, with Long Island producing some of the best pieces.

Also found at the Nassau Straw Market and throughout the archipelago is wood carving. As with much of canvas art, wood carvings usually depict the nature and people of the islands. A final popular feature of Bahamian art is coral and stone art. With a wealth of marine environments, naturally occurring reef break-offs and crustacean shells are often used as decorations and even horns in Junkanoo (colorful Bahamian festivals). It can be difficult differentiating between genuine pieces and tourist-aimed imitations and as a local Bahamas tour operator, we are always happy to highlight the authentic aspects of the islands.

Music & Dance

The roots of Bahamian music run deeply through the islands and far through our family trees. Often compared to other Afro-Caribbean style sounds, The Bahamas is most famously known for Goombay. You can hear the sounds of Goombay at any Bahamian celebration but especially on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and New Years Day, where the streets are splashed with colors from Junkanoo costumes, beating with the sounds of goatskin drums, accompanying instruments, and exciting dance moves. Junkanoo ( https://youtu.be/5L_qAsjlA8U ) has a unique sound to itself, with cowbells and whistles drawing attention to the mood of celebration. The third most notable Bahamian sound is rake and scrape. A newer sound, rake and scrape became common in the 20th century and traditionally includes concertinas (similar to accordions) and handsaws. Other popular styles include calypso and soca, well known throughout the Caribbean region.

The Baha Men are probably the most famous Bahamian artists today, who rose to popularity with their song “Who Let The Dogs Out?” but Ronnie Butler, Kirkland Bodie, Tony McKay, George Symonette, and Blind Blake also gained significant success in Japan, the U.S., and throughout the world. There are a ton of instrumental artists that have greatly influenced the Bahamian sound, from King Eric and his Knights, who created “Once Is Not Enough”, to Eddie Minnis and Joseph Spence.

Experience The Rhythm

Come over to Grum Ma’s Cultural Center and we will show you our collection of records sitting proudly on our walls! We love Bahamian music and sharing every piece of our culture with locals and visitors alike. Some particular highlights of Grand Bahama tourism are our Premium Food Tour and our Bush Tea and Culture Tour. There is nothing quite like listening to traditional Bahamian music with the sand between your toes and the sea breeze passing by.

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