Monday 14 October, 2019

Pelay's ‘Merry Christmas Our Way’ is a St Lucian Classic

The yuletide season in St. Lucia is one loaded with Christmas carols played over the airwaves, a tradition that dates back many, many years.

However, in recent times, the good old Christmas tunes sung by non-St. Lucians are now, more than ever, juggling for airplay with equally catching tunes from local singers who continue to improve the Christmas mood in the country.

The Christmas album by the late, great calypsonian Jeff “Pelay” Elva is a standout, a Christmas album St. Lucians can safely say ranks right up there with the best West Indian Christmas albums ever produced.

The 10-track album titled ‘Merry Christmas Our Way’, produced in 1977, is upbeat and catches the Lucian Christmas spirit in a way only a St. Lucian with a love of his/her people, land and culture can capture.

The ability of Pelay to take Christmas rhythms and transform them in a uniquely St. Lucian style tells of his uncanny ability as a song writer. He not only kept the Caribbean spirit of Christmas with its sunshine and upbeat tempo, but was able to keep the message of Christmas as well in his opening song on the album called ‘Give Praise” part of which goes like this:

“Before you fete on His birthday

Give thanks that you are here”

The chorus reminds people that Christmas Day is Jesus Christ's birthday so “let’s give praise to Christ the King” while another verse calls on people to “visit the sick, give to the poor, it won’t take much from you that’s the praise He’s asking for…”

St. Lucians, every year sing along with Pelay that a white Christmas will not do and that all they want to have is a sunshine Christmas.

The flip side to the album opens up with the very popular “Merry Christmas - St. Lucian style”, a song which truly embodies its title.

Pelay nailed the atmosphere here at Christmas time when he sings “after midnight mass/when fete starts to blast/make sure you have endless liquor to last/cause that’s the time of year/when old friends suddenly appear/and they will drink with you until the next New Year.”

To top it off he sings: “As a St. Lucian/I’m telling you as man/Christmas here is a special occasion/we don’t have no snow/ and the mistletoe we don’t know/but when it comes to fete we lead the show.”

‘Ce Tradition Noel’ is another song on the album which goes to the very heart of the economic situation of some St. Lucians during Christmas time. Sung strictly in creole, the song is communicable, catchy and absolutely irresistible. It shows Pelay’s versatility as he fluently sings in the language known as ‘Lanng Mama Nou’ translated to mean in English ‘In Our Mother Tongue’.

Singing in creole, he artfully describes the way St. Lucians spend their money during the Christmas season by saying that nice clothes and shoes is the tradition, houses well decorated is the tradition, even the poor man turning millionaire during this time is the tradition.

The album’s track lists are as follows, which one is your favorite?

A1

Give Praise

 

A2

That Is Christmas

 

A3

Oh Glorious Night

 

A4

Sunshine Christmas

 

A5

Carnival Or Christmas

 

B1

Merry Christmas (St. Lucian Style)

 

B2

No More Gifts

 

B3

Ce Tradition Noel

 

B4

In Our Old Familiar Way

 

B5

36-26-38

 

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