Black Stalin (Mr. Leroy Calliste) was conferred the Doctor of Letters - 2008


Mr. Leroy Calliste (born 24 September 1941), the Trinidadian calypsonian known as Black Stalin, was among the four persons conferred with an honorary doctorate at The University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine graduation ceremonies in October and November of 2008. That year’s graduation ceremonies came as the University marked its 60th Anniversary Celebrations.

Black Stalin was conferred the Doctor of Letters (DLitt) at the Faculty of Humanities and Education’s ceremony on Friday 31st October, 2008. Awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) in 1987, Black Stalin is considered to be one of the major practitioners of traditional Calypso, providing insightful social and political commentary in his compositions.

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

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.[3]

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".[4]

In 1985 he won the crown again with "Ism Schism" and "Wait Dorothy",[5] and again in 1987 with a tribute to steelband entitled "Mr. Panmaker" and "Bun 'Dem",[6] [7] a song calling for St. Peter to cast the likes of Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan into Hell.[8] [9]

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

In 1991 the usually dread and critical Stalin took a winning turn and walked away with the Calypso Monarch crown again, with "Look on the Bright Side" and "Black man Feelin' to Party". In 1995 he went chutney, with a "Tribute to Sundar Popo", in honour of his old friend and fellow singer.[10]

In 1994 he signed with Eddy Grant's Ice Records label, releasing the Rebellion album that year and Message to Sundar in 1995.

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 calypsoes "Black Man Feeling to Party" and "Wine Boy", poking fun at the politician Dhanraj Singh.

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