Aldwyn Roberts

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Best known as Lord Kitchener, a name given him by Growling Tiger, Aldwyn Roberts directed the evolution of Calypso for nearly six decades. A ten-time winner of the Road March award and an 18-time winner…
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Best known as Lord Kitchener, a name given him by Growling Tiger, Aldwyn Roberts directed the evolution of Calypso for nearly six decades. A ten-time winner of the Road March award and an 18-time winner of the Panorama Steel Drum Orchestra Competition, Roberts was inducted into calypso's Sunshine Awards Hall of Fame in 1989. His hits, which ranged from up-tempo party tunes to politically infused songs, included "Green Fig Man," "Chinese Never Had a VJ Day," "The Beat of the Steelband," "Tribute to Spree Simon," and "Pan in Harmony." A native of Anima, Trinidad, Roberts was taught to play the guitar by his father, a blacksmith by trade. He quickly mastered the instrument. When he was forced to leave school, following the death of his parents in 1936, he found employment singing for water company workers while they laid pipes. Recording his first local hit, "Shops Close Too Early," in 1938, he was named Calypso King of Anima each year between 1938 and 1942. Moving to Port of Spain in 1942, Roberts joined a band, Roving Brigade, that performed in local movie theaters. His first major gig came when he was hired to become a regular peformer at calypso club, the Victory Tent, and given a salary of one dollar a night. His future was secured after scoring with a major hit, "Green Fig Man," in 1944. Opening his own calypso club in 1947, Roberts became a mentor for the younger brand of calypso musicians that he dubbed "the Young Brigade."

He soon tired of the limited opportunities to earn a living as a musician in Trinidad. Leaving his homeland, he spent six months in Jamaica before moving to England, where he became a major star, often performing in three different clubs in a single night. Settling in Manchester, he opened a calypso club where he performed nightly. He introduced American audiences to his music during tours of the United States in the mid-'50s.

Returning to Trinidad in 1963, after living abroad for 16 years, Roberts quickly resumed his status as a calypso performer. Beginning in 1963, he won three straight Road March competitions. He also won the award in 1967 and 1968 and began a string of seven consecutive wins between 1970 and 1976. He won the Panorama Contest for Best Instrumental in 1964, the same year that he opened the Calypso Revue Tent. Robert's political leanings were not received well by the Trinidadian government. Although a petition was circulated in 1993 demanding that he be given the Trinity Cross, Trinidad's highest civilian award, the government chose to give him a lesser award instead. Roberts turned their offer down. On February 11, 2000, Roberts succumbed to a severe infection brought on by a blood disorder and organ failure. His passing was mourned throughout the West Indies.