Walter Ferguson and the Essence of Calypso

Author of “Cabin in the Wata,” “Cállalo,” “Carnaval Day” and 80 calypsos more, Walter Ferguson’s compositions portray the life of Costa Rica’s Caribbean villages with a combination of humor and rhythm.

A unique composer in his genre, Ferguson was born in Guabito, Panama, on May 7, 1919, but he is claimed by the little town of Cahuita as its famed son. His childhood took place in this town of fishermen in the province of Limon, among the almond trees, cacao and huge plantations of the banana company.

Armed with guitar and simpicity, Ferguson has not only inspired the emergence of an entire collection of Central American music, but also generated a renewal of Limón calypso among urban musicians. He is the man who keeps the essence of calypso alive in Costa Rica.

With Babylon, Ferguson broke a 30-year silence to became a sensation, not only because of the ingenuity of his lyrics but the conditions of the recording. We set up an improvised recording studio in his family’s little hotel at the Cahuita National Park entrance using mattresses and rugs to muffle the sounds of pet parrots and dogs.