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Profiles of Caribbean Artistry
The Road He Made To Walk
Lord Kitchener

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 music money.

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