Friday, December 21, 2007

The de Paur Chorus - Calypso Christmas (1956)

I've always found it just a bit surprising how many people are familiar with this old record.

What's not surprising is how many of them have such clear and fond memories of it.

I guess the first time I heard it I was expecting something more tropical and less sober, but was soon charmed by its sweetness.

As musical director of what had started as an infantry glee club in WWII, Leonard de Paur (1914-1998) became a driving force not only in male choral music, but also in the Folk Music revival.
Among his many other achievements following his work with the chorus, de Paur would go on to a career in television as a musical arranger and conductor, and as the director of community relations for New York's Lincoln Center.

See also:
- A very impressive list of de Paur's credits appear in his New York Times obituary.

- A Leonard de Paur bio page at the Columbia College Chicago website, which also yields a page for members of The De Paur Infantry Chorus.

- Leonard de Paur listed at the Internet Broadway Database.

- 'Beware of Pretty Chords' - A TIME Magazine article on de Paur's Infantry Chorus.

- A helpful illustrated history of Calypso music in its various incarnations can be found at
'Calypso: A World Music' - - An online exhibition from The Historical Museum of Southern Florida. There is mention of the de Paur Chorus in an interesting section on the 'Calypso Craze' in America.

From the 'Calypso Christmas' LP
(Columbia Records, 1956),
Listen to The de Paur Chorus -
Leonard de Paur, Conductor:

Christmas in de Tropics
De Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy
Sweet Little Jesus Boy
Mary Had a Baby
La Virgen Lava Panales
Christmas Present for Sallie
Mary's Little Boy Chile
Oh, Poor Little Jesus
Roun' de Glory Manger
Mary, Mary, Where Is Your Baby
What You Gonna Call Yo' Pretty Little Baby?
Ring de Christmas Bells

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 12 tracks in one 28.6 Mb zipfile.


David Cole said...

This is completely terrific, thanks so much for sharing!

Jim Rockford said...

If you want to hear some really wild Christmas music you have to hear Esquivels "The Merriest of Christmas pops" on RCA from 1959.
This is hands down THE best Christmas album ever least in my opinion.
This is the album you would hear in George Jetsons pad at Christmas!
its cool to note that Stella Stevens...Yes the actress from "The Nutty Professor" who was a member of the "Skip JAcks" can be heard in the backup group singing!

David Cole said...

Being an Esquivel fan and unfamiliar with that album, I had to track it down. Thankfully, it was posted here:

Apparently Esquivel only does a few tracks on it, but still a great find. Thanks for tipping me off, Jim!

David Cole said...

Oops, nevermind, only part of the album is posted, as he explains in the post. Still cool.

Anonymous said...

Wow! When I was very young, this was one of my father's favorite Christmas albums. My sisters and I loved to dance and sing to the music. I was trying to get this on Pandora with no success. Thanks for posting it. My father passed a couple of years ago and you helped bring him back this Christmas if just for a while.


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing Calypso Christmas. My wife's late father tried to make a cassette recording for all her siblings many many years ago but somehow messed it up and ultimately the LP was lost. For years we have only been able to hear about half the music and that was grossly distorted. Your generosity has brought her many fond memories of her childhood.
Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Thank you sharing Calypso Christmas. My parents played it every Christmas while I was growing up. I never got tired of it. I've tried purchasing it, but had no luck locating a copy. Thank you for this wonderful Christmas memory.

Inkitythinks said...

I still can't believe how many people rave about Calypso Christmas! I really thought it was only our family that loved this music; it was never truly Christmas until we listened to the LP. It IS available through Amazon as a CD for those who would like to buy it.

The In Crowd said...


Thanks much for your memory. It's been fun and gratifying to know so many people remember this album.

As for Amazon, at the moment it looks like there's only used and 'marketplace' copies available, as the CD version appears to still be currently out-of-print (at least in the US, from what I can see). Perhaps that will change.

Unknown said...

What a Surprise! I had no idea this album was available. It brings back lots of memories of the many times I played this record as a child. I was introduced to it by my father, William R Hawkins Sr, who was a former member of the chorus. I still remember most of the words after all these years. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the Calypso Christmas. My Mother played this record when I was growing up and it brings back such wonderful memories. I have looked for it before and was never able to locate it. You just provided another present that I can give to her on Christmas morning. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you and have a blessed Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I grew up listening to this album at Christmas, and it still isn't REALLY Christmas until I hear the opening notes of "The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy". I was able to get a CD of this album, but it doesn't have "Go Tell it on the Mountain"!! And I can't find that single by the DePaur Chorus anywhere. Can anyone help me locate it?

W1AB said...

I was born in 1936. I never owned any 78 or 45 rpm vinyls back then. This album was the first 12 inch LP I bought, in 1955. Your online version is better than my well-worn disc, so thanks for letting me get a better digital version. Al

Anonymous said...

so happy to see other people out there who love this album as much as my family do. thank you for posting the file. my dad became a fan of the du paur chorus very early on when they recorded "the ballad of rodger young" and passed along his love to all of us. thank you again for posting this.

Unknown said...

Like many others on this list, Christmas isn't Christmas until I hear this music. We grew up with it in our family--every one on my mother's side had a copy. But I didn't know anyone else who had even heard of it. When I met my first wife in college in the 70s, I was shocked to find out that she'd grown up with it. For years I had only a cassette copy I made from our family's old scratched- up LP. Over the past 15 years or so I obtained the CD version (note that "Go Tell It on the Mountain" was NOT on the original LP, as one of the posters claimed), and also the 7" EP version AND even a commercially released cassette version! I also have a couple of other LPs by the de Paur Chorus, including a second Christmas LP called The Spirit of Christmas (Columbia CL 725), which is worth tracking down (I found mine at an antique store).

Anonymous said...

I first came across this album on a cassette tape that I purchased for half price after Christmas. I had never heard of this group but was curious since the selections were different than most other Christmas Albums. To my surprise the music was so well performed, it blew me away. It has become my favorite album over the years. My cassette tape broke and my daughter tracked down a copy of it on CD. It wouldn't be Christmas without "Calypso Christmas"

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I recently found a copy of the de Paur Infantry Chorus' "Latin American Songs" LP to replace for my mother the one we lost 40 years ago. Now she has "Christmas Calypso", too. You have given us many, many happy memories, and we're very grateful!

terriergal said...

Oh gosh we had this when I was growing up and always played it right after Thanksgiving as we were decorating. It is one of my favorite Christmas albums.

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