Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago has recently shared the story of Calypsonian Chalkdust (Hollis Urban Lester Liverpool) on Wednesday. As always, the Carnival Institute took it to social media and posted ‘WaybackWednesday,’ featuring the Calypsonian.
The update read, “On today’s #WaybackWednesday, we examine a dilemma faced by Calypsonian Chalkdust (Hollis Urban Lester Liverpool) as he sought to pursue a career as a Calypsonian.”
While shedding light on his life, it noted that in 1968, he came to the public’s attention in a big way with two songs, “Brain Drain” and “Devaluation,” but while his calypso career may have found favour with the public, it was not so with the Ministry of Education.
Furthermore, it stated that Chalkdust, who had taught at Primary and Secondary schools from 1958 to the turn of the century, recalled that in 1968 due to him both singing calypso in a tent and teaching, he was dismissed from the teaching service. He denied breaking the education regulations. He defended himself in a 1968 Trinidad Express article, stating:
“I do not get a salary for singing calypsoes, and I am not under contract to any tent; no probe can prove otherwise. When I sing at the (Calypso) Theatre, I do not collect a salary. I get an allowance for travelling, the clothes I wear when I appear on stage and for meals.”
In the end, the Ministry failed to muzzle Chalkdust; in fact, in a Guardian Newspaper article dated 2021, he credits the late Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams with saving him; he states, “They (the media) asked Dr Eric Williams: what do you think about Chalkdust being sent home for singing calypso? These were his exact words: “I don’t know why they are humbugging the young man,” as per the update by the Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago.
“With that, he was reinstated by the Teaching Service Commission,” it added.