10 Songs You’ll Hear At Belize’s September Celebrations

Belize is in the midst of its annual holiday season - known as the September Celebrations - which officially kicked off today with St. George’s Caye Day, a holiday which, among other things, explains why Belize is the only Central American nation with English as its official language.

When we thought about curating a list of Belizean tunes to celebrate the occasion, the first person we thought to tap was LargeUp family member (and Belize City native) DJ Rampage. When he’s not on the road DJing for Lauryn Hill—yes, that Lauryn Hill—the New York-based selector is one of the reggae and dancehall world’s most prolific maker of mixtapes. His latest mix, Fi Wi, which we just premiered here on LargeUp last week, however, spans the essential sounds of Belize including punta, paranda, congo and brukdown. We asked Rampage what songs you can expect to hear should you be enjoying the September Celebrations.

From Rampage: We are in the midst of September, the month when the colony formerly known as British Honduras became the independent nation of Belize. It’s also the anniversary of the Battle Of St. George’s Caye. Today, September 10, marks the date of the victory of the Baymen (the mostly English early settlers of Belize) over the Spaniards. Today it marks the start of the holiday season, while September 21st is celebrated every year as Independence day. This year, 2013, marks 32 years of independence but Belize has celebrated national pride through songs since way before then.

Press play below, to hear a mini-mix featuring some of Rampage’s selections.

1. Samuel Haynes & Selwyn Walford Young— Belize National Anthem

The National Anthem of Belize was written by Samuel Haynes (pictured above) and Selwyn Walford Young in 1963, back when Belize was still the English territory known as British Honduras. The name would change a decade later, with full independence granted in 1981.

2. Lord Rhaburn Combo Feat. Calypso Rose—Battle Of St. George’s Caye

The legendary Lord Rhaburn, one of Belize’s most famed musicians and bandleaders, and Trinidad’s Calypso Rose collaborated on several tracks including this one, “Battle Of St. George’s Caye.” The track expresses what a glorious time it was when we became an independent nation, and stood our grounds as Belizeans, and is still played by today’s generation.

3. B. F. Abeling—Tribute To The Baymen

Another historic retelling, this track breaks down exactly what went on on September 10th at St. George’s Caye between the Baymen and the Spaniards.

4. Lord Rhaburn Combo—Baymens Glory

“It is the Baymen’s glory that makes me proud to tell…” Another collaboration between Lord Rhaburn and Calypso Rose, this one sees rose once more singing her heart out in celebration of the September 10th battle.

5. Joseph Franz Wagner—Under Double Eagle March

This classical classic from Austrian composer Josef Franz Wagner (not to be confused with Germany’s Richard Wagner) has been played during the Citizen’s March through the city on the 10t of September Ever since I was a youth. Lord Rhaburn even cut a version of it.

6. Leela Vernon—Carnival

Who said Belize doesn’t have culture? Listen to Leela Vernon, the queen of brukdown music, as she explains about Belizean culture and carnival…

7. Mr. Peters—Good Mawnin Belize

A big staple of Belizean culture, Mr. Peters bought us brukdown, one of our most important music styles. Known for songs like ”Run Mr. Peters” and ”Abaaba,” he’s toured the world playing this form of music with his Boom and Chine band. On “Good Morning Belize,” he speaks to the hard work and sacrifice Belizeans take on to survive, giving thanks for his country.

8. Lord Rhaburn Combo—Belize You Bawn Deh

So if yuh bawn dah belize den unu need fi be about it. “Tell deh dat yuh bawn deh” Lord Rhaburn graces us with one of the many classics out of Belize.

9. Melonie Gillett—Come Closer

Now, for something current out of Belize City. This track from Melonie Gillett features T.R. Shine. Together, these are two of Belize City’s top artists to date, with both blazing the airwaves daily. This record is definitely one for the celebrations!!

10. Bunji Garlin—Ready Fi Di Road/Machel Montano-Possessed

Carnival is a huge deal in Belize City. As part of the celebrations, natives participate in a road march, which includes carnival groups and steel pans jamming to soca and calypso. They might be from Trinidad, but Bunji Garlin’s “Differentology” and Machel Montano’s “Possessed” are two of the biggest soca records in Belize right now.