Dr. Leroy Calliste known as "Black Stalin" has passed
Dr. Leroy Calliste fondly known as Black Stalin, passed today 28th December, 2022
Dr. Leroy Calliste was on born on the 24 September 1941 and raised on Coffee Street in San Fernando to George and Elcina Calliste. 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 was popularly called the People’s Calypsonian. He was known for his militant Rastafarian and black nationalist lyrics. 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. He also won the Calypso King of the World title in 1999.
Black Stalin’s 1979 win, the first such triumps at the national level, therefore should be seen not just as a trophy on the shelf. What it marked was the arrival at the top rung of a very different kind of calypsonian. It was no cakewalk. In fact, his victories have always come in spectacular fashion, their value heightened by the fact that he simply never won from a poor field. In 1979 he was up against Explainer’s “Kicksing in Parliament” and "Dread”, the combination everyone swore would take the title. Also on that stage were Crazy, Short Pants, Relator, Singing Francine, Bro Valetino and Poser, who went on to win the road march title.
In 1985, singing “Wait, Dorothy” and “Ism Schism” he beat Merchant’s “Pan in Danger” and “Caribbean Connection” and two years later, rendered “Mr Panmaker” and “Bu’n Dem” to pip David Rudder’s semainal work “Calypso Music.” In 1991 there was “Look on the Bright Side” and a song that has retained its value at fetes to this day, “Feeling to Party”. His last lien to date came in 1995 for “In Time” and the catchy “Sundar”.
Stalin has since gone to win the global title, crowned Calypso King of Kings in 1999 for his rendition of “Black Man Feeling to Party”, one of calypso’s most ingenious love songs and “Wine, Boy” (aka “Wine, Dhanraj, Wine”) a laugh-a-minute piece of political picong. In 1985, at the inaugural edition of that contest, he had placed second to the agreed Calypso King of the World, The Mighty Sparrow.
In 1987 he was also awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) for his contribution to Trinidad and Tobago culture.
No less an attraction when in the role of calypso tent NC (apart from singing, he functioned in this capacity for ten years at Kitchener’s Revue), Stalin has made the rounds, bringing decades of experience to the task of charting audience response. Along with Brother Valentino and Superior, he also opened Iere Kaiso Movement in 1982 at the Communications Workers Union (CWU) Hall, a mere stone’s throw from his former stable at William Munroe’s Kingdom of the Wizards (later known as Spektakula Forum).
Black Stalin became Dr. Leroy Calliste on 31 October 2008, when he was conferred with an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, for his tremendous dedication and contribution to Calypso music and culture in Trinidad and Tobago.
Black Stalin has performed in front of global audiences and left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of millions who witnessed his energetic performances. Black Stalin produced many hits that will ever be timeless.
In 2021, the City of San Fernando renamed a portion of Lord Street (corner Coffee Street to Paradise Street) to Dr. Leroy Calliste street.
On behalf of the President Mr. Ainsley King, the General Council, membership and staff of TUCO, we express condolences to his wife Patsy Calliste, his children, grandchildren, the entire Calliste family, colleagues and friends of the late Dr. Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste.
From the Newsdesk of The Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO)