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Sunday 18 November 2018
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Dr. Stalin’s fifth decade

CALYPSO ICON Black Stalin (Leroy Calliste) celebrates 50 years in the business this year, showing no signs of slowing down as he gears up for the 2009 Carnival season.

His latest calypso is “What More Could We Ask For” in which he calls on the people to recognise the wealth of talent that exist in the country.

“We are blessed with young talented persons who have captured world titles in sports. We are blessed with brilliant writers, musicians and music directors who attract many foreign producers. This is the real beauty of this land,” Stalin said.

He said instead of complaining all the time, the people of the country should take the time to recognise what they are worth.

Stalin has eight new calypsos this year, all of which are strong social commentaries. However, the veteran bard will not be based at any of the major tents this year. Apart from a special appearance at the opening of the Massive Roving Tent on January 24, Stalin’s fans can catch him Under the Trees at Hotel Normandie on February 11. He will also be performing with the Roy Cape All Stars at the UWI fete on Sunday, as well as several all inclusive fetes.

Stalin was conferred with an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, on October 31 for his tremendous dedication and contribution to calypso music and culture in TT. It is just the latest of the many awards and honours he has earned throughout his illustrious musical career.

In 1987 Stalin was awarded the Hummingbird Medal Silver for his contributions to culture. Stalin began singing calypso in 1959 and in 1962 he joined the Southern Brigade Rent. In 1967 he joined the cast of Kitchener’s Calypso Revue and managed to place in that year’s Calypso Monarch Competition.

Stalin won the Calypso Monarch competition for the first time in 1979 with his classic “Caribbean Man”.

Recalling that first victory in the competition, he told Newsday: “I wanted to reach out to people and remind them of the struggle that the slaves and indentured labourers went through to get this far and the song appealed to everyone.”

Other calypso hits followed, including “We Can Make it if We Try”, “Play One”a tribute to late pan pioneer Winston “Spree” Simon, “Mr Panmaker”, “Sundar”, a tribute to chutney king, the late Sundar Popo and perennial party favourite “Black Man Feeling to Party”.

Stalin has won the National Calypso Monarch title five times, following up on his win in 1979 with victories in 1985, 1987, 1991 and 1995. To date, Stalin has recorded more than 50 records and CD’s and has a repertoire of more than 240 original songs.

He also won the title of Calypso King of Kings in 1999 for his rendition of “Black Man Feeling to Party” and “Wine, Boy” (aka “Wine, Dhanraj, Wine”).

Apart from a short stint as a tally clerk on the Pointe-a-Pierre waterfront and a brief adventure as a limbo dancer, calypso has been his main occupation.

Commenting on the current state of calypso, Stalin said he is happy to see a lot of young people doing serious compositions.

“There is need for those intelligent writers to come forth and do their thing even at the regional level,” he said, adding that he is encouraging young people with performing talent to be brave and attempt the stage. He urged young and upcoming calypsonians to remain dedicated to the art form and to work hard because, “Hard work pays off”.

He is happy to know that his hard work could be appreciated at this level and to know that he can make a difference in people’s lives.”

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