PM pays tribute to Black Stalin

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

The Prime Minister has expressed condolences on the passing of the legendary calypsonian Black Stalin – Leroy Calliste, 81, who died on Wednesday morning.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts also joined in mourning the loss of the five-time Calypso Monarch and Calypso King of the World (1999).

In a Facebook post, Dr Rowley described Stalin who helped to place TT on the global stage via culture, as a “master”

“It was the Mighty Duke who very aptly said that, ‘By calypso our stories are told.’ Very few bards told our stories more effectively than the Black Stalin. He was a master.

“His passing leaves us poorer but his rich legacy of poetic calypso lyrics and haunting musical lines will all live on for our guidance and in his enduring memory. May we always remember his contribution.”

Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram said he was saddened by the passing of the legendary calypsonian who is being mourned not only locally but in the international community.

In a statement, he recalled Stalin’s career in entertainment spanned for six decades with his debut at a calypso tent (The Southern Brigade) in 1962 and would be immortalised thereafter for hits such as Caribbean Man, Black Man Feeling to Party, We Can Make It and Better Days among many others.

“In 1987, Stalin was awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) for his contribution to TT culture and in 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies for same.

“I join with the national and international community in paying tribute to Dr Leroy Calliste and wish to express my heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones on his passing. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

Acting Tourism and Culture Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of the undisputed people’s calypsonian. Stalin was one of our cultural icons whose impact transcended generations, geography and social strata. Through his music, many could better appreciate the calypso art form whilst simultaneously being educated and entertained. We will forever be grateful for his contributions to the advancement of calypso locally, regionally and internationally.”

The statement said, “Black Stalin was a standard bearer of Carnival traditions whose work spans from pre-independence to the present. In the 1950s, Stalin began as a limbo dancer, then later devoted the next 60 years of his career to developing the calypso artform. In 1962, he entered the Southern Brigade Calypso Tent. This veteran calypsonian began his career in the late 1950s and has won the love of many with an extensive repertoire that includes timeless hits like Black Man Feeling to Party, Wait Dorothy, Caribbean Unity, Ism and Schism, Bun Dem, and his popular chutney composition, Tribute to Sundar Popo.

“For his artistry, Stalin was endowed with many well-deserved accolades as the TT Humming Bird Medal Silver (for culture) and inclusion in the Sunshine Awards Hall of Fame. In 2008, the University of the West Indies (UWI) conferred the Doctor of Letters (DLitt) for his tremendous contributions to the calypso tradition and insightful social and political commentary. Black Stalin’s work has indelibly impacted all facets of society.

“The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts extends its deepest condolences to his family, loved ones and the cultural fraternity. May he rest in peace.”