Monday, March 18, 2013

Jamaican Children's Song "Jump Shamador" (Good Morning To You, Mother)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases two text versions of the Jamaican children's song "Jump Shamador" (also known as "Good Morning To You, Mother.)"

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, entertainment, inspirational, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

[Added September 8, 2015, along with slight corrections of typos to the remainder of this post]

Jump Shamador

Various Artists - Topic, Published on May 30, 2015

Provided to YouTube by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Transcription of the recording:
First voice: Good morning to you, daughter.
Second voice in response: Good morning to you, mother.
First voice: What is your intention?
Second voice: I want to be a teacher.
First voice: You can't be a teacher.
Second voice: I must be a teacher.
Group: Jump shamador, me darling.
Jump shamador me dear.
Jump shamador, me darling.
Jump shamador, me dear.
Jump shamador.
Jump shamador.
Jump shamador.
Jump shamador.
The song repeats from the beginning with new children taking the part of the first voice [daughter] and second voice [mother]. Each time the daughter says what profession she wants to be and the mother says she can't be that profession. The daughter than insists that she can be that profession. In this recording, the professions given are teacher, lawyer, nurse, doctor, president, teacher, and nurse.

The first voice probably is changed to "son" and the second voice changed to father if boys played the part of the "first voice" and the "second voice".

I believe that "Jump Shamador" started as a game song whose purpose was to help Black children develop and reinforce self-confidence and learn to persevere in spite of almost certain obstacles to them achieving their goals.

Songs like this are still needed today.

Note: I prefer the title "Jump Shamador" to "Good Morning To You, Mother" because the title "Jump Shamador" distinguishes this Jamaican children's song from other songs with "Good Morning To You" titles.

The song "Good Morning To You, Mother." is included in Walter Jekyll's 1904 collection Jamaican Song and Story Annancy stories, digging sings, ring tunes, and dancing tunes. In 2011 that manuscript was published online as a Project Gutenberg EBook. The link for that book is given below with the song's lyric. In that song the term "jump shamador" is also given as "jump shamadir".

In that same collection by Walter Jeykll, the game song "Black Boy In A Ring"* (CIX, page 207) is given with the "jump shamador" phrase:
"Wheel an' take you pardner, jump shamador!
For he like sugar and I like plum."
* This is the same song that is now known as "There's A Brown Girl In The Ring".
Walter Jekyll noted that the first half of "Black Boy In A Ring" was sung in one of the Anancy (spider) stories which he included in his collection (Annancy and Screech-owl (No. XIX.).

Jekyll also wrote "Shamador" is possibly a corruption of "camerado."
Some information about "jump shamador" and a related term is included in the Dictionary of Jamaican English edited by Frederic Gomes Cassidy and R. B. Le Page (University of West Indies Press, 2002; Originally published by Cambridge University Press in 1967, and revised as a second edition in 1980):
"SHANDELAY sb dial; etym unknown — perh [perhaps] no more than a nonsense refrain: cf jump shamador. Some kind of dance or caper. 1924 Beckwith 172 (Song:] "Massa Puss and Massa Rat a jump shandalay, jump shandalay"., p. 404.

The song "Jump Shamador" is also included in the American published 1989 children's song by Shake It To The One That You Love The Best: Play Songs and Lullabies From Black Musical Traditions (collected and adapted by Cheryl Warren Mattox) under the title "Jump Shamador". Cheryl Mattox indicates that "Jump Shamador" is a ring game from the "West Indies".

Whatever the actual meaning of the phrase "jump shamador", my sense is that this song is an example of purposeful play. This game teaches children to be self-assured and to perserver in the face of obstacles as they strive toward their career choice and otherwise in life.

This song is particularly poignant if we reflect on how difficult conditions in the early 20th century were for Black people in Jamaica (and in the United States and other nations) who wanted to be a doctor or a teacher or some other profession. What is equally sad is that there are still stories today in the United States and elsewhere of Black children, other children of Color, and poor children of any race or ethnicity being discouraged by their teachers from striving to be a doctor, teacher, business owner, scientist, and other "white collar" professions.

That is why songs like "Jump Shamador" are so important. They can help children reinforce their self-esteem and help them strengthen their will to achieve, without the children even realizing that they are being taught such valuable lessons. That's why I'm showcasing this song.

Here's a brief Mp3 sample of "Jump Shamador" from the 1978 Smithsonian Folkways album Caribbean Songs and Games for Children
Various Artists FW07856
song #106

That song is also included on Cheryl Warren Mattox's tape cassette of her book Shake It To The One That You Love The Best songs. If I recall correctly, while the tune was the same as the tune of that Mp3 sample, the tempo seemed to be a little bit faster.

In both of those renditions, the word "shamador" was pronounced "sha-mah-DOOR".


Good morning to you, mother;
Good morning to you, daughter;
What is your intention?
I want to be a teacher.
You shan't be a teacher.
I bound to be a teacher.

Jump shamador, me darling.

What is your intention?
I goin' to be a doctor.
You shan't be a doctor.
I bound to be a doctor.
You shan't be a doctor.
I will be a doctor.

Jump shamadir, me darling.

There is no dancing here. The mother walks round inside the ring, the various members of which she addresses in turn. "You shan't" is emphasized by an uplifted arm swept vigorously downwards and a stamp of the foot. The answers go through the various professions until it is felt that there is a want of something more exciting, which is supplied by:-"....."
Source: Walter Jekyll Jamaican Song and Story
Annancy stories, digging sings, ring tunes, and dancing tunes
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Jamaican Song and Story (With musical score. CXII p. 211)


Good morning to Joseph.
(Good morning to you too).*
What is your intention?
(I want to be a doctor.)
You can't be a doctor.
(I will be a doctor).

Well, jump shamador, my darling.
Jump shamador my dear.
jump shamador, my darling.
Jump shamador my dear.

Jump shamador
Jump shamador
Jump shamador, my darling.

Jump shamador
Jump shamador
Jump shamador, my dear.

Jump shamador
Jump shamador
Jump shamador
Jump shamador
*The lines by the person responding are given in parenthesis.

Here are the notes that Cheryl Warren Mattox included with this song's musical score:
West Indies

Ring Game

This song has an important message-if you believe in yourself, you ca be whatever you want to be. Each player chooses a profession. When your name is called, go to the middle of the ring. Respond to the question -"What is your intention?" - by naming your choice of profession. Show how determined you are bu being very forceful when you sing the line, "I WILL be a ______!"

Thanks to the unknown composers of this song. Thanks also to the Walter Jekyl for collecting & publishing this song, and Cheryl Warrren Mattox for adapting, publishing, and recording this song.

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Viewer comments are welcome.


  1. this song is also found on season 2, ep 1 of the 90s kid show "Gullah Gullah Island" which you can view on Amazon Prime

    1. Thanks for sharing that information, Tee.

    2. We also found it through Gullah Gullah Island. It is featured on an episode in Season One and also an episode in Season Two. One of our favorite songs! Thank you for helping me find some answers about it!

    3. Thanks Brandy Terry.

      I appreciate your comment. It prompted me to look on YouTube again for an example of this song and I found the soundfile that I added to this post.

      Best wishes.