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I LOVE how a traditional folk song can have SO many interpretations!
"Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" has mento influences, but the song was commonly classified as an example of the better known calypso music.
The song was thought to be sung by Jamaican banana workers, with a repeated melody and refrain (call and response); to each set lyric, the workers made a response. There were numerous versions of lyrics, some likely improvised on the spot by the singers. The song was probably created around the second half of the nineteenth century or the first half of twentieth century, where there was a rise of the banana trade in Jamaica.
The song was first recorded by Trinidadian singer Edric Connor and his band "Edric Connor and the Caribbeans" on the 1952 album Songs From Jamaica; the song was called "Day Dah Light". Belafonte based his version on Connor's 1952 and Louise Bennett's 1954 recordings.