Garry Steckles tips his hat to Dr Hollis Liverpool
, otherwise known as the Mighty Chalkdust
, who won his sixth Calypso Monarch title this year
...Among other things, Dr Hollis Urban Lester Liverpool is a university lecturer, author, schoolteacher, historian, political pundit, and fearless social commentator.His
heady accomplishments in a long, distinguished, and varied career in theworlds of academia and literature would have been enough to keep the averagehuman more than busy over the course of a lifetime.
But the achievement for which Dr Liverpool
is revered throughout the English-speaking Caribbean has nothing to do with the lecturer's podium, the classroom, or book launches: he's
most famous as the Mighty Chalkdust
, one of the greatest exponents of calypso ever to draw breath.
first calypsos in 1954, when he
was a pupil at St Mary's College
in Port of Spain, and turned professional in the late 60s.He
first monarch title in 1976, and proved he
was no flash in the pan by holding on to the coveted crown the following year.He
won two more monarch crowns in the 80s, another in 1993, and, of course, his
sixth this year.Along the way, this remarkable man found time to graduate from the University of the West Indies (where he now lectures) with a bachelor's degree in history and sociology; to teach at both primary and secondary schools for 35 years; to earn a master's degree in history and African history, and a PhD in history and ethnomusicology from the University of Michigan; to become Trinidad's Director of Culture (a senior post in the civil service); to become director of the Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago; and to publish a variety of books, among them Rituals of Power and Rebellion: The Carnival Tradition in Trinidad and Tobago and From the Horse's Mouth, a socio-cultural history of calypso from 1900 to 2003.
Today, at 63, Chalkie - as he's
affectionately known throughout Trinidad and Tobago - is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.Along with Sparrow, Stalin, and Shadow, the best known of his
fellow elder statesmen of calypso, he's
continuing to prove that there's more - much, much more - to Trinidadian music and culture than exhorting the masses to shake their collective booties.