Hollis Urban Liverpool is a history professor of University of the West Indies-Trinidad and Tobago. He also happens to be known as Chalkdust (the Mighty Chalkdust or Chalkie), one of the islands’ leading calypsonians and eight-time winner of their Calypso Monarch competition (most recently in 2009). He recently delivered a lecture at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados.
According to The Bajan Reporter, Dr. Liverpool’s lecture, “Calypso and Crime,” served to show how calypso as social commentary is “an effective tool in analyzing societal ills and offering solutions.” Drawing on his expertise in calypso, and encouraging the audience to sing along, he offered numerous examples of how songs not only serve as gauges to chart trends in the manifestations of social problems (crime, violence, domestic abuse, child-abuse, alcoholism, and unemployment, among others), political approaches, and institutional changes, but also to illustrate their effect on society. Speaking about the possibility of positive transformation through music, “Chalkdust is of the view that in every island right after their respective anthems, children should be made to listen to [the Mighty] Sparrow’s ‘Education a Must.’”
Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool holds a Ph.D. in history and ethnomusicology from the University of Michigan. He frequently lectures and offers workshops on the history and culture of calypso music. His books include Rituals of Power and Rebellion: The Carnival Tradition in Trinidad and Tobago 1763-1962 and From the Horse’s Mouth, a socio-cultural history of calypso from 1900 to 2003.