Calypsonian Black Stalin dies at 80

Santana Salmon (Caribbean National Weekly) reports that famed Trinidadian calypsonian Black Stalin, known for his lyrics against colonial oppression, died yesterday (December 28, 2022).

The calypso fraternity has been plunged into mourning with the death of accomplished Trinidadian calypsonian Black Stalin on Wednesday morning at the age of 81. Stalin, whose name is Dr. Leroy Calliste, passed away at his home in San Fernando, Trinidad.

Black Stalin was a leading calypsonian known for his lyrics against European colonial oppression. He won the Calypso Monarch competition on five occasions and the Calypso King of the World title in 1999.

Born and raised on Coffee Street in San Fernando to George and Elcina Calliste, he is one of four children. He attended San Fernando Boys’ R.C. School. He worked as a limbo dancer before taking up singing calypso in 1959 when he made his debut at the Good Shepherd Hall in St. Madeleine, but did not join a calypso tent until 1962 when he joined the Southern Brigade. He was given the nickname Black Stalin by fellow calypsonian Blakie in the mid-1960s. In 1967 Black Stalin joined Kitchener’s Calypso Revue tent and managed to place in that year’s Calypso Monarch competition.

Stalin won the Calypso Monarch competition for the first time in 1979 (with “Caribbean Man” and “Play One”) and went on to win it again in 1985, 1987, 1991 and 1995.

In 1979 he moved over to the Mighty Shadow’s King of the Wizards Tent and recorded his first album, To the Caribbean Man. That year he walked away with his first Calypso Monarch crown for his two compositions, “Caribbean Unity” and “Play One”.

In 1985 he won the crown again with “Ism Schism” and “Wait Dorothy”, and again in 1987 with a tribute to steel band entitled “Mr. Panmaker” and “Bun ‘Dem”, a song calling for St. Peter to cast the likes of Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan into hell.

In 1987 he was also awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) for his contribution to Trinidad and Tobago culture.

After finishing as runner-up to Mighty Sparrow in 1985, in 1999 Black Stalin won the title of Calypso King of the World with the calypsos “Ah Feel to Party” and “Wine Boy”, poking fun at the politician Dhanraj Singh.

Stalin celebrated his 81st birthday in September and was celebrated at an event in Gasparillo.

For original article, see https://www.caribbeannationalweekly.com/caribbean-breaking-news-featured/calypsonian-black-stalin-dies-at-80/

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