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Encyclopedia > Roaring Lion

Roaring Lion (born Rafael DeLeon, Aroquita, Trinidad, British Trinidad and Tobago, February 22, 1908; d. July 11, 1999) was one of the greatest calypsonians (calypso singer/composers) of the 20th century. His 65-year career began in the early 1930s and he is best known for his compositions "Ugly Woman" (1933), "Mary Ann" and "Netty, Netty", which are still performed today. Trinidad (Spanish, Trinity) is the largest and most populous of the 23 islands which make up the country of Trinidad and Tobago. ... February 22 is the 53rd day of every year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1908 (MCMVIII) is a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... July 11 is the 192nd day (193rd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 173 days remaining. ... 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... A Calypsonian is a musician, usually from Trinidad, who has studied calypso and memorised its traditional tunes and stanzas. ...


Early life

Rafael DeLeon was born in Aroquita, in the Caura Hills of northern Trinidad, to a mother named Basalicion DeLeon. An illegitimate child, Lion spent some of his earliest years in two orphanages, before being taken in, following his mother's illness, by an elderly woman named Miss Charles who lived on Coffee Street in the southwestern city of San Fernando.[1] Finally, he was presented by Charles to a Muslim Indian family in San Fernando who wanted him; he was adopted by Najeeran Khan, who became his adoptive mother. Although there has long been confusion about his full name, he himself gave it as Rafael Arius Cairi Llama Deleon. He later met his biological father, who told him that his name, Cairi, was another name for Trinidad,[2] and that "Llama" is a sort of goat or deer from South America. In a 1990 interview, Roaring Lion stated that "from fear that I might be styled a thief, I only use Rafael Deleon."[3][4] The City of San Fernando is one of the largest cities which exist in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. ... Binomial name Lama glama (Linnaeus, 1758) The llama (Lama glama) is a large camelid that originated in North America and then later on moved on to South America. ... This article is about the year. ...

Rafael deLeon was born on June 15, 1902 and died July 11, 1999. He was 97 years old.

Career as a calypsonian

From a young age, Roaring Lion (DeLeon's adopted stage name) became known for his skill in creating calypsos (particularly in his ability to extemporize lyrics on any subject). Contrary to his humble origins, he cultivated a refined stage persona and always appeared sharply dressed. His career officially began in 1924. He recorded extensively between the 1930s and 1950s, and was one of the calypsonians who deserves the most credit for the increasing international popularity of the genre during this period. In March 1934 the Trinidadian phonograph merchant Eduardo Sa Gomes sent Roaring Lion and Attila The Hun to New York to record; they became the first calypsonians to record abroad.[5][6] 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... Attila The Hun was the name taken by the prominent calypsonian born Raymond Quevedo (March 24, 1892 - February 22, 1962). ...

Roaring Lion achieved fame for his linguistic prowess as much as for his catchy tunes. His lyrics, delivered in rapid-fire style, show an impeccable command of the English language (as well as Trinidadian slang), and are replete with witty turns of phrase, humorous metaphors, and clever alliterations and internal rhymes.

Further, the lyrics of many of his "war calypsos" (essentially insult songs) presage those of similar hip hop battle rap songs by over 50 years. An extract from his lyrics to "War" (recorded during the 1930s by Roaring Lion with Executor, Caresser, and Attila and directed against their fellow calypsonian Wilmoth Houdini) is a particularly good example of such lyrics: Hip hop music (also referred to as rap or rap music) is a style of popular music. ... Battle raps are raps written about the idea of freestyle battles. ... Wilmoth Houdini (born in Trinidad and Tobago c. ...

The earth is a trembling and a tumbling
And the heavens are falling and all
Because the lion is roaring.
My tongue is like the blast of a gunman...
Destruction, desolation and damnation --
All these I'll inflict on insubordination,
For the Lion in his power is like the rock of Gibraltar.

Later life

Roaring Lion continued recording through the 1990s; his later recordings feature electronic and soca backgrounds, though he continued to sing in the classic early calypso style. He was regarded as an elder statesman and historian of calypso music and frequently appeared in the Trinidadian media in this role. See: Soca River (pronounced Socha River), ( Slovenian original reka Soča). ...

In 1986 he self-published a book entitled Calypso From France to Trinidad: 800 Years of History; in it, he claims that calypso is of French rather than African origin, and also shares many reminiscences about his career. 1986 (MCMLXXXVI) is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Roaring Lion died on July 11, 1999, at the age of 91. Reports claim that Lion had ten children. Some of his eldest sons are Ibn Llama de Leon, Ishmael de Leon, and Akenathon de Leon. In 2002 Akenathon announced plans to turn his father's Mt. Lambert property into a Roaring Lion Museum.[7]


  1. ^  The oft-printed statement that Roaring Lion was born "Hubert Raphael Charles" is thus incorrect, at least as far as the surname "Charles" is concerned.
  2. ^  "Kairi" is, indeed, the aboriginal name for Trinidad in the Island Carib language.
  3. ^  It is unclear whether his surname should properly be spelled "DeLeon," "de Leon," "De Leon," or "Deleon," as it has appeared in print in all of these forms.
  4. ^  Entertainment is in this family. One of the Lion's grandsons is Alfonso Ribeiro, also known as Carlton Banks, who appeared on the television program The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Carib or Island Carib is the name of a people of the Lesser Antilles islands, after whom the Caribbean Sea was named; their name for themselves was Kalinago for men and Kallipuna for women. ...

External links


  • Roaring Lion (Rafael De Leon) (1986). Calypso From France to Trinidad: 800 Years of History. Trinidad: General Printers of San Juan.

  Results from FactBites:
Picture Of Roaring Lion – Look At Those Teeth! (315 words)
The times I've heard a lion roar (in itself an incredible experience, but not very suitable to photography) were usually at night and unless you’re out on a night drive the chances to capture it on film are virtually zero.
The reason a lion will roar is usually to find their companions whom they might have temporarily lost, or to announce its territory and strength to rivals.
More lion pictures of cubs, a female lion, white lion and lion chasing hyena off their kill - all taken on safari in Africa...
Reggae Reviews: Roaring Lion (304 words)
Note: This Roaring Lion is not the same as the Roaring Lion who helped spread the popularity of calypso throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.
If you hear Roaring Lion but don't know who the artist is, you may guess you're listening to Jigsy King, Terror Fabulous, Mad Lion (without the hip-hop beats), etc.
One of Lion's biggest problems is that he has not established a unique enough style to separate himself from fellow gravelly-voiced conscious DJs like Buju Banton and Sizzla.
  More results at FactBites »



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