Lord Kitchener (calypsonian)

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Lord Kitchener
Lord Kitchener (calypsonian).jpg
Background information
Birth nameAldwyn Roberts
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
Genres Calypso, soca
Occupation(s) Calypsonian

Aldwyn Roberts HBM [1] DA [2] (18 April 1922 – 11 February 2000), [3] better known by the stage name Lord Kitchener (or "Kitch"), was an internationally known Trinidadian calypsonian. [4] He has been described as "the grand master of calypso" and "the greatest calypsonian of the post-war age". [5] [6]

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.


Early life

Roberts was born in Arima, Trinidad and Tobago, the son of a blacksmith, Stephen, and housewife, Albertha. [5] [7] He was educated at the Arima Boys Government School until he was 14, when his father died, leaving him orphaned. [5] His father had encouraged him to sing and taught him to play the guitar, [6] 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. [5] [8] He became locally popular in Arima with songs such as "Shops Close Too Early", and joined the Sheriff Band as lead singer. [5] [8] He won the Arima borough council's calypso competition five times between 1938 and 1942. [5] [9] [8]

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. During World War 2 Kitchener became popular with US troops based on the island, leading to performances in New York. After the end of World War 2, T&T Carnival 1946 took place in early March during which Kitchener won his very first official Road March title with a catchy calypso leggo called "Jump In The Line".

Port of Spain Capital 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.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

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. [5] 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. [5] [10]

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. [5] [6] 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 Trinidad and Tobago. [5]

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 could not or would not return to. [11] 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 Second Test at Lord's in June 1950. [10] [12] 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.

The game of cricket has inspired much poetry, most of which romanticises the sport and its culture.

West Indies cricket team sports team

The West Indies cricket team, traditionally known as the Windies, is a multi-national cricket team representing the Anglophone Caribbean region and administered by Cricket West Indies. The players on this composite team are selected from a chain of fifteen Caribbean territories, which are parts of several different 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.

He opened a nightclub in Manchester and also had a successful residency at The Sunset in London. [5] [8] Further US performances followed in the mid-1950s. [5] [8] In the 1950s, Kitchener also composed "Bebop Calypso".

Kitchener returned to Trinidad in 1962. He and the Mighty Sparrow proceeded to dominate the calypso competitions of the 1960s and 1970s. 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. [5] [13] 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. [5] He won his only Calypso King title in 1975 with "Tribute to Spree Simon". [5] He stopped competing in 1976. [14]

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. [5] He recorded his most commercially successful song, and one of the earliest major soca hits, "Sugar Bum Bum" in 1978. [6] [15]

In 1993 a campaign was launched for Kitchener to receive the island's highest civilian honour, the Trinity Cross. [5] The government declined but offered him a lesser honour, which he turned down. [5] [8]

Having been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, Kitchener retired in 1999 after delivering a final album, Vintage Kitch. [5] [6] He died on 11 February 2000 of a blood infection and kidney failure at the Mount Hope Hospital in Port of Spain. [5] 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."[ citation needed ]

Kitchener is honoured with a statue in Port of Spain. [14] 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. [9]

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


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. [16] The book was shortlisted for The 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize. In 2015 Joseph also presented a 30 minute radio documentary Kitch! for BBC Radio 4 which is available via the BBC Radio 4 website. [17]

See also

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  2. "Kitch gets honorary doctorate… Daughter says 'at last!'". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  3. Mason, Peter (12 February 2000). "Lord Kitchener obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2000.Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. "Lord Kitchener Tribute". Tntisland.com.
  5. 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
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  7. "Kitch's Korner: Lord Kitchener, pre-eminent composer of Steelband Music". Ecaroh.com.
  8. 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
  9. 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
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  11. "Kitchener's Winners Row". Tntisland.com. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
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  13. Harris, Craig "Aldwyn Robert Biography", Allmusic. Retrieved 2 May 2016
  14. 1 2 "Lord Kitchener", Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved 2 May 2016
  15. 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
  16. "Kitch - Peepal Tree Press". Peepaltreepress.com.
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