Leroy Calliste or, as he is better known, the “Black Stalin” is no ordinary Calypsonian. He has used his artistic ability to be a voice of the nation. His entire career has been about “taking care of de people business.”
I became a Stalin fan before I ever dreamed of being a radio disc jockey. I remember watching Calypso Monarch on television with my grandparents as this dark man sang: “All ah we name man. Two foot and two hand. Anything you do, I could do it too…”
That night this Laventille boy decided I could do anything I wanted to, because “all ah we name man.”
Now, I want to do something for him and I hope you do too.
This Carnival season, I’m calling on all Black Stalin fans, friends and other artistes in Trinidad and Tobago to buy a “Black Stalin Live – Collector’s Edition” CD, so Stalin would not have to miss earning an income this season. It will also go a long way towards facilitate his ongoing physical and vocal therapies.
Stalin’s career is dedicated to singing to our better angels as citizens of T&T.
When there was oil money in the 1970’s, Stalin sang, “Piece of the action” telling the Government to “pinch off our little piece of dough before yuh start sending away big loans.”
Then came a recession and Stalin’s refrain was: “We can make it if we try, just a little harder.”
People wanted to know his political party and he replied: “Keep yuh party card, it’s not necessary… I got to do, what little that I can do, wholeheartedly for de country.”
Rising divorce rates became an issue and Stalin wrote of one of the greatest love songs, “No woman no” in which he sang: “We done make one vow, we cah tun back now.”
When racial insecurities arose after the election of Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister of East Indian decent, Stalin decided to sing “Sundar” and, one of my all time favourites, “Sufferers”…
“They don’t care about colour… Sufferers don’t care about race…. Sufferers only care about where the next meal coming from.”
Most people love his party hit, “Black man feeling to party” without noting that Dr Leroy Calliste was once again promoting social order. He did not take any woman to the party, he took his wife, who spent years raising “we children” so they “could jam.”
When a Mirror editorial accused Stalin of selling out by singing “Black man feeling to party”, he responded the following year with “Come wid it” where he accused the “reporter man” of hypocrisy and pointed out that if he had sang “he took his deputy” the reporter would probably have been okay with that.
The “Black Stalin Live Collector’s Edition” is a special recording. Sixteen songs selected by Black Stalin and Roy Cape and performed live in Stalin’s hometown of San Fernando at Naparima College.
At times during the concert, the music is broken down to a sort of jazz hybrid with songs like “Love yuh Own,” “Black man Doh get nothing easy” and “Man to Man.”
In uptempo tracks like “Wait Dorothy wait,” musical genius Roy Cape and his Kaiso All Stars take our music to another level. Roy Cape’s musical director, Juice Man, describes it as the sweetest CD he ever had. Stalin calls it the best of his work.
This carnival Stalin is alive. He is fighting the good fight. Now is the time for us to support him, when he can appreciate the love we all have for him.
Too often we wait until a loved one is gone to express how much we care about them. Let’s do this for Stalin. Pick up a CD for $100 TTD and buy one as a gift for a friend abroad, and encourage all your friends to do same.
Stalin cannot work but his music can work for him this Carnival. Doesn’t he deserve it?
Editor’s Note: The “Black Stalin Live – Collector’s Edition” CD is available at Crosby’s Music Centre in Trinidad. You can contact them at 622-Soca to find out the nearest outlet or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also purchase the CD at all TUCO Tents or Calypso Fiesta at Skinner Park. Once you get a copy, share your thoughts with us.