by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Wed. Sept. 21, 2022
Dominique Noralez said it best when she wrote that it is impossible to speak of Belizean identity, Independence and personality without paying homage to the one and only Lord Rhaburn. His music is a staple in every Belizean household, whether they are aware of it or not. Throughout September and other months too, the lyrics to “Born Deh” and “Pump It Up” can be heard on the radio waves. And instinctively, we sing along.
He is Belize’s Calypso King, with the themes of his music running the gamut from sociopolitical to comedic. Having risen to notoriety in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with his group, The Lord Rhaburn Combo, he has become a hallmark in the genres of brukdown, calypso, soca, and reggae.
At the inauguration of the well-deserved Lord Rhaburn Plaza on September 9, during the Living Legend Concert, Rhaburn was hailed by his contemporaries and his admirers as a perpetual showstopper and a man always on top of his game.
His band, said Belize City mayor Bernard Wagner, was always the group that everyone stayed behind to watch, “always at the tail of the carnival and at the end of the tenth parade.”
But apart from getting the Belizean masses moving (along with the international community that has grown to adore his music just as much), the Lord’s music has served another, even greater, purpose over the years.
“Lord Rhaburn is a Belizean social and political scholar in his own way,” writes BREDAA’s Bilal Morris in a piece shared on the aptly named “Belizean Legends” page.
There, Morris highlights the way many of the musician’s songs touch on the sociopolitical issues that affect Belize—from the Guatemalan claim to the relationship between local Belizeans and the diaspora. It is something that can be observed by anyone who decides to take a few moments to stop and listen to the lyrical genius embedded in many a Lord Rhaburn song.
He began his foray into the music world at the tender age of 8, and now, at the age of 86, the King of Calypso continues his reign, having graced the stage as recently as last week during the Panyaad Concert for a surprise performance.
A prolific songwriter, composer, vocalist, and in his words, an ambassador for peace, Gerald Alexander
“Lord” Rhaburn has more than earned the title of musical and cultural legend.