Lord Kitchener (calypsonian)

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Lord Kitchener
Lord Kitchener (calypsonian).jpg
Background information
Birth nameAldwyn Roberts
Also known asLord Kitchener
Born(1922-04-18)18 April 1922
Arima, Trinidad and Tobago
Died11 February 2000(2000-02-11) (aged 77)
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Occupation(s) Calypsonian

Aldwyn Roberts HBM [1] DA [2] (18 April 1922 – 11 February 2000), better known by the stage name Lord Kitchener (or "Kitch"), was an internationally known Trinidadian calypsonian. [3] He has been described as "the grand master of calypso" and "the greatest calypsonian of the post-war age". [4] [5]

The Hummingbird Medal is a state decoration of Trinidad and Tobago, instituted in 1969. The medal is awarded for loyal and devoted service beneficial to the state in any field, or acts of conspicuous gallantry or other outstanding humane action. There are three grades to the medal: bronze, silver and gold. Recipients of the medal are entitled to designate their names with the post-nominal letters "HBM".

Doctor of Arts

The Doctor of Arts is a discipline-based terminal doctoral degree that was originally conceived and designed to be an alternative to the traditional research-based Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the education-based Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). Like other doctorates, the D.A. is an academic degree of the highest level. The D.A. is also frequently conferred as an honorary degree with the added designation of honoris causa.

Calypsonian singer of calypso

A calypsonian, originally known as a chantwell, is a musician, from the anglophone Caribbean, who sings songs of the calypso genre. Calypsos are musical renditions having their origins in the West African griot tradition. Originally called "Kaiso" in Trinidad, these songs, based on West African Yoruba, Ewe-Fon and Akan musical beats, were sung by slaves and later ex-slaves in Trinidad and Tobago during recreation time and about a host of topics – their land of origin, social relationships on the plantations and the lives of community members, including plantation managers, overseers and owners.


Early life

Roberts was born in Arima, Trinidad and Tobago, the son of a blacksmith, Stephen, and housewife, Albertha. [4] [6] He was educated at the Arima Boys Government School until he was 14, when his father died, leaving him orphaned. [4] His father had encouraged him to sing and taught him to play the guitar, [5] and he became a full-time musician, his first job playing guitar for Water Scheme labourers while they laid pipes in the San Fernando Valley. [4] [7] He became locally popular in Arima with songs such as "Shops Close Too Early", and joined the Sheriff Band as lead singer. [4] [7] He won the Arima borough council's calypso competition five times between 1938 and 1942. [4] [8] [7]

Music career

He moved to Port of Spain in 1943 where he joined the Roving Brigade. He was spotted singing "Mary I am Tired and Disgusted" (aka "Green Fig") with the group by Johnny Khan, who invited him to perform in his Victory Tent, where he met fellow calypsonian Growling Tiger, who decided Roberts should from that point be known as Lord Kitchener. He became known as an innovator, introducing musical and lyrical changes, including frequent criticism of the British government's control of the island. He became popular with US troops based on the island, leading to performances in New York.

Port of Spain City in City of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Port of Spain, officially the City of Port of Spain, is the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago and the country's second-largest city after San Fernando and the third largest municipality after Chaguanas and San Fernando. The city has a municipal population of 37,074, an urban population of 81,142 and a transient daily population of 250,000. It is located on the Gulf of Paria, on the northwest coast of the island of Trinidad and is part of a larger conurbation stretching from Chaguaramas in the west to Arima in the east with an estimated population of 600,000.

He toured Jamaica for six months in 1947-8 with Lord Beginner (Egbert Moore) and Lord Woodbine (Harold Philips) before they took passage on the Empire Windrush to England in 1948. [4] Upon his arrival, Kitchener performed the specially-written song "London Is the Place for Me", which he sang live on a report for Pathé News. [4] [9]

Jamaica country in the Caribbean

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola.

Egbert Moore (1904–1981), known as Lord Beginner, was a popular calypsonian.

"London Is the Place for Me" is a 1948 calypso song by Aldwyn Roberts. Roberts, under his calypso stage name Lord Kitchener, sang the first two stanzas of "London is the Place for Me" on camera for reporters upon arrival at Tilbury Docks on the HMT Empire Windrush, and was recorded by Pathe newsreel cameras. Roberts, as Lord Kitchener, did not record the song until 1951. The song was also popularised during the 1950s (1954) by bandleader Edmundo Ros.

Within two years he was a regular performer on BBC radio, and was much in demand for live performances. [4] [5] He found further success in the UK in the 1950s, building a large following in the expatriate communities of the West Indian islands, and having hits with "Kitch", "Food from the West Indie", "Tie Tongue Mopsy", and "Alec Bedser Calypso", while remaining popular in T&T. [4]

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

His prominence continued throughout the 1950s, when calypso achieved international success. Kitchener became a very important figure to those first 5,000 West Indian migrants to the UK. His music spoke of home and a life that they all longed for but in many cases couldn't or wouldn't return to. [10] He immortalised the defining moment for many of the migrants in writing the Victory Calypso with its lyrics "Cricket, Lovely Cricket" to celebrate West Indies cricket team's first victory over England in England, in the 2nd Test at Lord's in June 1950. [9] [11] This was one of the first widely known West Indian songs, and epitomised an event that historian and cricket enthusiast C. L. R. James defined as crucial to West Indian post-colonial societies.

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago during the early to mid-19th century and eventually spread to the rest of the Caribbean Antilles and Venezuela by the mid-20th century. Its rhythms can be traced back to West African Kaiso and the arrival of French planters and their slaves from the French Antilles in the 18th century.

West Indies cricket team sports team

The West Indies cricket team, colloquially known as and officially branded as the Windies, is a multi-national cricket team representing the Anglophone Caribbean region and administered by Cricket West Indies. A composite team, players are selected from a chain of 15 Caribbean territories, most of which are English-speaking Caribbean, which comprise several countries and dependencies. As of 24 June 2018, the West Indian cricket team is ranked ninth in the world in Tests, ninth in ODIs and seventh in T20Is in the official ICC rankings.

Test cricket the longest form of the sport of cricket; so called due to its long, grueling nature

Test cricket is the longest form of the sport of cricket and is considered its highest standard. Test matches are played between national representative teams with "Test status", as determined and conferred by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The two teams of 11 players each play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days. It is generally considered the most complete examination of teams' playing ability and endurance. The name Test stems from the long, gruelling match being both mentally and physically testing.

He opened a nightclub in Manchester and also had a successful residency at The Sunset in London. [4] [7] Further US performances followed in the mid-1950s. [4] [7] In the 1950s Kitchener composed Bebop Calypso.

Kitchener returned to Trinidad in 1962. He and the Mighty Sparrow proceeded to dominate the calypso competitions of the sixties and seventies. Lord Kitchener won the road march competition ten times between 1963 and 1976, more times than any other calypsonian. For 30 years, Kitchener ran his own calypso tent, Calypso Revue, within which he nurtured the talent of many calypsonians. Calypso Rose, David Rudder, Black Stalin and Denyse Plummer are among the many artists who got their start under Kitchener's tutelage. [4] [12] Later he moved towards soca, a related style, and continued recording until his death. Kitchener's compositions were enormously popular as the chosen selections for steel bands to perform at the annual National Panorama competition during Trinidad Carnival. [4] He won his only Calypso King title in 1975 with "Tribute to Spree Simon". [4] He stopped competing in 1976. [13]

Kitchener saw the potential of the new soca phenomenon of the late 1970s and adopted the genre on a string of albums over the years that followed. [4] He recorded his most commercially successful song, and one of the earliest major soca hits, "Sugar Bum Bum" in 1978. [5] [14]

In 1993 a campaign was launched for Kitchener to receive the island's highest civilian honour, the Trinity Cross. [4] The government declined but offered him a lesser honour, which he turned down. [4] [7]

Having been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, Kitchener retired in 1999 after delivering a final album, Vintage Kitch. [4] [5] He died on 11 February 2000 of a blood infection and kidney failure at the Mount Hope Hospital in Port of Spain. [4] He is buried in the Santa Rosa Cemetery in Arima.

It was always important to Kitchener throughout his career to gain new experiences that could be woven into his material. This led him to performances in Curaçao, Aruba and Jamaica in the early days, and finally to London, when he was already flying high in Trinidad. Kitchener once said: "I have reached the height of my popularity in Trinidad. What am I doing here? I should make a move."

Kitchener is honoured with a statue in Port of Spain. [13] A bust is also on display on Hollis Avenue, Arima, not far from the Arima Stadium.


In 1952, he met his wife Elsie Lines. They married in 1953, and lived for a period in Manchester where Kitchener ran a nightclub. They divorced in 1968. He later married and had four children (Christian, Kernel, Quweina and Kirnister Roberts) with Valerie Green, and also had a relationship with Betsy Pollard. [8]

Kitchener's son, Kernal Roberts, is also a performer, playing drums for the biggest soca band of the early 2000's in the country, Xtatik. He was also their musical director and is a composer of multiple Soca Monarch and Road March titles.


Winner of Carnival Road March
1946"Jump in Line"
1963"The Road"
1964"Mama dis is Mas"
1965"My Pussin'"
1967"Sixty Seven"
1968"Miss Tourist"
1971"Mas in Madison Square Garden"
1975"Tribute to Spree Simon"
1976"Flag Woman"
Winner of Calypso Monarch
YearSong 1Song 2
1975"Tribute to Spree Simon""Fever"



The first biography of Lord Kitchener, Kitch: A Fictional Biography of A Calypso Icon, by British based Trinidadian author Anthony Joseph was published in June 2018 [15] In 2015 Joseph also presented a 30 minute radio documentary Kitch! for BBC Radio 4 which is available via the BBC Radio 4 website. [16]

Related Research Articles

Soca music is a genre of music that originated within a marginalized subculture in Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1970s, and developed into a range of styles by the 1980s and later. Soca was initially developed by Lord Shorty in the early 1970s in an effort to revive traditional calypso, the popularity of which had been flagging amongst younger generations in Trinidad by the start of the 1970s due to the rise in popularity of reggae from Jamaica and soul and funk from USA. Soca is an offshoot of kaiso/calypso, with influences from chutney, Latin, cadence, funk and soul.

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The music of Trinidad and Tobago is best known for its calypso music, soca music and steelpan,and a few who listens to dancehall and reggae. Soca internationally noted performances in the 1950s from native artists such as Lord Kitchener and Mighty Sparrow. The art form was most popularised at that time by Harry Belafonte. Along with folk songs and African- and Indian-based classical forms, cross-cultural interactions have produced other indigenous forms of music including soca, rapso, parang, chutney, and other derivative and fusion styles. There are also local communities which practice and experiment with international classical and pop music, often fusing them with local steelpan instruments.

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Lord Pretender was the stage name of Aldric Farrell, M.O.M., H.B.M. a calypsonian vocalist born on the island of Tobago widely acknowledged to be a "master" of extempo, a lyrically improvised form of calypso music considered a forerunner of rap. Starting with an impromptu performance at the age of 12, his career spanned nearly seven decades until cancer of the larynx forced him to retire in the mid-1990s.


  1. "National Awards Database". President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
  2. Newsday Newspaper https://newsday.co.tt/2017/11/13/kitch-gets-honorary-doctorate-daughter-says-at-last/.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. "Lord Kitchener Tribute". www.tntisland.com.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Thompson, Dave (2002) Reggae & Caribbean Music, Backbeat Books, ISBN   0-87930-655-6, pp. 149–154
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Talevski, Nick (2010) Knocking on Heaven's Door: Rock Obituaries, Omnibus Press, ISBN   978-1846090912, p. 343
  6. "Kitch's Korner: Lord Kitchener, pre-eminent composer of Steelband Music". www.ecaroh.com.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pareles, Jon (2000) "Lord Kitchener, 77, Calypso Songwriter Who Mixed Party Tunes With Deeper Messages", The New York Times , 14 February 2000. Retrieved 2 May 2016
  8. 1 2 Philip Carter, ‘Roberts, Aldwyn (1922–2000)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2012 accessed 16 Jan 2013
  9. 1 2 Spencer, Neil (2011) "Lord Kitchener steps off the Empire Windrush", The Guardian , 16 June 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2016
  10. See the illuminating discography (under collection, personal) at http://www.rootsofcalypso.com/ and another at http://www.tntisland.com/kitchfacts.html
  11. "Lord Kitchener, Calypso Ignite Test Cricket", Jamaica Gleaner , 17 April 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016
  12. Harris, Craig "Aldwyn Robert Biography", Allmusic. Retrieved 2 May 2016
  13. 1 2 "Lord Kitchener", Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved 2 May 2016
  14. Broughton, Simon; Ellinghan, Mark; McConnachie, James (eds.) (2000) World Music: The Rough Guide vol. 2 - Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, Rough Guides, ISBN   978-1858286365, p. 512
  15. "Kitch - Peepal Tree Press". www.peepaltreepress.com.
  16. "BBC Radio 4 - Kitch!". BBC.