Trinidad and Tobago: The Carnival Institute and Regional Carnival (CIRC) expressed condolences to the family, loved ones and friends of Leroy Calliste, nicknamed the “Black Stalin,” a name given to him by fellow calypsonian Carlton Joseph “Lord Blakie.” Black Stalin passed away on December 28, 2022 at the age of 81 years.
Stalin was born on September 24 1941, on Coffee Street in San Fernando, Trinidad. He worked for a brief time as a tally clerk at the Point-a-Pierre waterfront. He also was a limbo dancer and made his debut as a calypsonian in 1959 at the Good Shepherd Hall in St. Madeleine. In 1962, he entered the Southern Brigade Tent, and in 1967 he joined Kitchener’s Calypso Revue Tent and placed in the Calypso Monarch competition that year.
In 1979 he won the Calypso Monarch title with his two songs, “Caribbean Unity” and “Play One.” That same time he began performing at the Mighty Shadow’s King of the Wizards Tent as well as recorded his first-ever album, “To the Caribbean Man.” He won the title again in 1985, 1987, and 1991.
In 1982, Stalin, along with Anthony Emrold Phillip “Brother Valentino” and Andrew Marcano “Lord Superior”, opened the Iere Kaiso Movement at the Communications Workers Union (CWU) Hall on Henry Street, Port-of-Spain. In 1987 he was awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) for his contribution to Trinidad and Tobago culture.
Black Stalin also won the title of Calypso King of the World in 1999 with two calypsos titled “Blackman Feeling to Party” and “Wine Boy”, also known as “Wine, Dhanraj, Wine”. Stalin has given us such hits as “Look on the Brighter Side”, “Better Days”, “Sufferers”, and many others.
On October 31, 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate, Doctor of Letters (DLitt), from the University Of West Indies (UWI), St Augustine, for his remarkable dedication and impact on Calypso music and culture in Trinidad and Tobago.
He was an iconic kaisonian, a master of social and political commentary. Long Live Kaiso!