Profiles of Caribbean Artistry
The Road He Made To Walk
By Vaneisa Baksh
"I was born a calypsonian," he said. So he lived. So he died. In life, Lord
Kitchener was one of two titans of the calypso firmament, straddling the world
side by side with that other gargantuan of our time, the Mighty Sparrow.
In death, he leaves us with a corpus that will form one of the bones within
the body of memory of the 20th century Caribbean. It is a prodigious legacy, but
what else could one expect from a prodigy?
Aldwyn Roberts was that, and from early childhood I believe. Why? This son of
blacksmith Stephen and housewife Albertha, growing up in Arima in the 1920s, was
hearing music in every thing around him, and finding ways to tell the stories of
those sounds. He abstracted the rhythm of the blacksmith, the tunefulness of his
whistling; the harmony his mother created between her broom's swishing and her
own humming; he inhaled the music of rustling leaves, clinking bottles and
clattering pans, and it seemed to him that life was a melody waiting to be
played out. He had fallen under the spell of a proprietary muse. Music.
The muse would have to be breathing heavily down his neck to make a
fifteen-year-old, who had just been orphaned, think of earning money by playing
music for big men working on the Water Scheme in San Fernando. The men liked the
compositions which he accompanied on his guitar, and so he earned his first