According to Wikipedia Goombay is a music genre from the Bahamas (in addition to being the name of an instrument central to the genre).

  • What was the first song that would today be qualified as goombay appear? And when was it created?
  • Who coined the term "goombay" and when?

Even partial information is welcome, but I need at least a date and reference.

2 Answers 2


Goombay was around from a long time in The Bahamas. The earliest reference I can discover was made by Zora Neale Hurston in 1930. She states the one of The Bahamian drummers shouted Goombay before he started playing the drum. One of the songs she mentioned that is still used today in recordings is Bimini Gal, a song that was also recorded in 1935 in the Bahamas by the Nassau String Band. You can also hear other Goombay songs played on the drums. "No Lazy man" is among many others. Goombay was the drumming rhythms and dances known by foreigners as the Fire dance in The Bahamas. African social dance and music known since the 19th century. The actual origins of the term is unknown but it is believed to derive from an African word meaning Rhythm in the Kikongo language. For example "1936 D' pleecemun hit off wun goombay on d' drum (Dupuch 42)" In 1936 Dupuch a Bahamian published a book that mentions the term Goombay. And clearly it associates goombay with the Rhythms played on the drum.





I found a track called Goombay Drums by Blind Blake in 1952, release in a 78 rpm vinyl album called A Third Album Of Bahamian Songs. The title refers to the goombay drums, a percussion instrument from these islands.


So I suppose the term goombay to qualify the genre simply comes from the name of this characteristic drum goombay, also written gumbey or gumby.

You can also find a compilation of goombay recordings from 1951 to 1959.

  • Indeed, my searches about the genre are fruitless due to the results being overwhelmed by the noise about the instrument and what seems to be a band using that term in their name :-/ Oct 18, 2017 at 9:44
  • @NicolasRaoul, yes there is a band that has a similar name but nothing to do with the genre. Also, it's not surprising for a music genre to have a name referring to its typical instrument.
    – Bebs
    Oct 18, 2017 at 9:56

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