Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Leroy Calliste, 24 Sep. '41, San Fernando, Trinidad) Calypsonian, the name bestowed '58 by veteran Lord Blakie (Carlton Joseph). One of the dying breed who adhere to calypso as a trad. vehicle for social and political commentary, seen as direct descendant of Atilla and a didactic poet of the first order, with legendary onstage charisma; a Rastafarian, firmly aligned with the black masses; has never shown any interest in winning the Road March (see Calypso). After leaving San Fernando Boys' RC School, did assortment of jobs incl. tally clerk at Pointe-a-Pierre docks, limbo dancer; made debut '59 with Southern Brigade calypso tent singing 'Why I Want To Be A Calypsonian'; reached Calypso Monarch final for first time '67, placing fourth with 'Beat My Tune' and 'Culture First', both incl. on his debut single. Long and fruitful relationship with Lord Kitchener since '67 led to valuable experience as MC etc in Kitchener's Calypso Revue tent '68--76; spent most of calypso career there so far. Placed second in Monarch final '69 with 'Reply To Miss Tourist' and 'The Message Of Martin Luther King', his reaction to the assassination (a new live recording '85 incl. in King Of Kings- -Live Vol. 1 on B's); placed fourth in Monarch final '72 with 'New Portrait Of Trinidad', listing harsh realities (as opposed to Mighty Sniper's '65 Monarch winner 'Portrait Of Trinidad', which painted rosy picture), and 'She Ain't Fraid'; 'Pan Gone' '74 told how nearly everybody benefits from the steel band except the panman; other noteworthy calypsos: 'De Ole Talk', 'Nothing Eh Strange', 'Piece Of The Action' '74--6. Withdrew from competition '76--8, returned and won Monarch '79 with 'Play One' and 'Caribbean Unity', both incl. in his first LP Caribbean Man '79 on Makossa, now regarded as a classic: defined Caribbean unity in black nationalist terms, controversial in Trinidad and Tobago, which has a rich racial mix; the calypso was discussed by Prime Minister Eric Williams at the ruling party's annual convention.

He performed at Carifesta in Cuba, and in Grenada after the New Jewel Movement came to power; in T&T he won both North and South Calypso King titles and awards for best composition ('Caribbean Unity') and best performing artist; he performed with Brother Valentino in show Blood Brothers, all in '79; his relationship with Valentino has since soured. In '80 he defended his Monarch title with 'When The Well Run Dry' and 'Money', came sixth; 'Money' was incl. in Just For Openers, set of two disco singles also incl. 'Breakdown Party', a comment on the ruling party in T&T. 'Vampire Year' and 'Run De Head' (from LP In Ah Earlier Time '81 on Hula) took him to third place in Monarch contest; 'Nothing Come Easy' and 'Man Is Boo' (on 12]im[ single Black Stalin 1982) to sixth; 'That Is Head' and 'Better Days' to second in '83, latter incl. in You Ask For It '84 on Kalico. He won in '85 with 'Wait Dorothy Wait' and 'Ism Schism' (12]im[ single on Charlie's), former a commentary on social injustice incl. a clever repudiation of smut; in '85 also he came close second in King of Kings contest to Mighty Sparrow. Booklet Black Stalin, The Caribbean Man by Louis Regis published '86 in Trinidad. 'No Part Time Lover' and 'More Come' brought him to second in '86 (incl. on Sing For The Land on B's), beaten by David Rudder; in '87 he dethroned Rudder with 'Burn Dem' and 'Mr Pan Maker' (LP I Time on B's); 'Burn Dem' offering St Peter advice on Judgement Day about oppressors of black people. In May '87 Stalin and Rudder performed together at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Beaten into third place in '88 Monarch competition with 'We Can Make It' and 'Think Well' from LP Moving Up on B's; placed fourth in second King of Kings contest May '88; did a brief residency at NYC's Village Gate July '88; Kavery Dutta's film documentary One Hand Don't Clap '88 incl. him performing at Kitchener's Calypso Revue '86. Withdrew from competition '89; that year 'tent hopped' to Calypso Expo (missing Calypso Revue's 25th anniversary), where he performed 'Turn Back' and 'Supu-Supu' incl. on post-Carnival release To De Master on WB; LP featured woman calypsonian Twiggy (Ann-Marie Parks, who won Calypso Queen '85 with 'Outside Woman') singing lead on one track and duetting with Stalin on another. Issued Nah Ease Up on Carotte for '90 season. Unexpectedly re-entered Monarch contest '91, became four-time winner with optimistic tunes 'Ah Feel To Party' and 'Look On The Bright Side' from The Bright Side '91 on Straker's. Returned to '92 final as defending Monarch, tied for sixth place with 'Come With It' and 'Cry Of The Caribbean' from Cry Of The Caribbean '92 on Straker's. Help '93 on Straker's incl. commendable 'Kaiso Music'; performed with new Kisskidee Kaiso Karavan tent '94; that season promoted 'One Tune Pan Man' (incl. on Rebellion '94 on Ice). Won fifth Monarch crown '95 with 'Sundar' and 'In Times' (on Message To Sundar '95 on Ice); the former was Stalin's deliberate attempt to address racial tension in Trinidad by 'singing praises' to East Indian-descended chutney soca pioneer Sundar Popo. Defended crown in '96 Monarch final with 'Where Limbo Gone' and 'Ah Fit' (both incl. on compilation Ringbang -- Carnival Special '96 on Ice), but placed tenth. Co-headlined Kaiso House tent with Shadow '97; came fourth in Monarch final with 'The Marriage' (aka 'Promising') and 'People Of The Earth' from TNT Showboat -- Stalin '97 on Klub Karnival. Roots, Rock, Soca '91 on Rounder compiles some of his notable calypsos '79--88.