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Do You Like Mêlée? Grenada Christmas Mêlée is Here

by Lou-Ann Jordan Dec 3, 2018

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Christmas ornament with music instrument

If ever there was a term that reflects the nature of Caribbean people it would be mêlée (bacchanal, mix-up, commesse, row row).  It captures our lightheartedness and joviality with our underlying solemnity.  Mêlée is a huge part of our culture and one imagines the mischievous cackle that generally accompanies the comment, “well, look at mêlée!”  The holidays are no exception, as it offers a different type of mêlée for Grenadians to enjoy.    We introduce to you a Grenadian Christmas staple, mêlée parang.

Parang is a seasonal genre of music.  It is popular in many of the islands, especially those with a strong Spanish heritage.  Sung during the Christmas season, traditionally the lyric were creolized Spanish with the cuatro and shak-shak instruments accompanying.  Here in Grenada this style has been changed to reflect the culture and instead of Spanish lyrics, the singers croon English notes.  Another significant difference is the theme.  Mêlée parang singers choose a range of topics from current events to an individual’s private matters.  The songs are lyrical commentary on specific incidents that took place during the year.

Whether public knowledge, or relatively unknown, as in an occurrence in a small village, the singers having got wind of the story, puts pen to paper.  The result is a witty, lighthearted yet thought-provoking parang song alerting all to the misdeeds that occurred.    What of offending the perpetrator, you might wonder?  In most instances, names are not mentioned.  However, if name-calling occurs that is expected too because at parang time “is plenty ah name calling”.

Here are a few lyrics from one of the songs by Jericho and The Men from the Mainland, a very popular mêlée parang band:

If they feel well town people sleeping

Mama well judgment day coming

Town people say bring stone and fire

For what Bound-to-Lie do to Peter

 If you living in glass house

You shouldn’t pelt no stone

And if you see goat mess on a hill

Don’t touch it, just leave it alone

Especially when parang time coming

Is plenty ah name calling

So if your name mention

Don’t say we fas