Black Immigrant Daily News
Calypso icon Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste who died on Wednesday at the age of 81. FILE PHOTO –
SAN FERNANDO is planning a hero’s send-off for one of its most beloved sons, Leroy “Black Stalin’ Calliste.
A funeral service for the lyrical genius has been set for next Thursday, January 5.
The service will be held at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, a place where Calliste made his mark as a calypsonian in his formative years; as MC for the Calypso Revue Tent and; as a competitor in the calypso semi finals, before this was marketed as Calypso Fiesta and moved to Skinner’s Park.
In collaboration with Calliste’s wife, Patsy, and family members, a number of activities are being planned by a specially-formed committee. In the works are a musical tribute, a street procession and a public viewing of the body at the Southern Academy of the Performing Arts (SAPA).
The committee overseeing the event includes San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello, NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters, Ian Small – Stalin’s former manager, and Dawad Phillip, former advisor to Peters when the latter held the post of Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism.
“It’s an ad hoc committee just put together for this purpose because we have to do right by Leroy,” said Phillip who grew up with Calliste in San Fernando.
The body, which will be placed in a carriage, will lead a street procession comprising Moko Jumbies and a music truck from Guide’s Funeral Home on Coffee Street, San Fernando to the Naparima Bowl for the service.
Regrello said on Friday that the city will host a musical tribute for the public, featuring some of Calliste’s colleagues at Harris Promenade on Tuesday at 6 pm.
“A lot of performers have been calling and coming in, asking to perform at what will be an exciting event.
“It is our way of saying thank you to Stalin for the music. This is how he would have wanted it.”
The committee has also proposed a public viewing of the body which will be held at SAPA on Wednesday.
Regrello said for logistical reasons, SAPA was not considered for the funeral although this was the venue last used for the funeral of another cultural icon, pan arranger and player Ken “Professor” Philmore.
“With school being reopened next week and so many schools in the vicinity of Todd Street, it would be a traffic nightmare to have the funeral procession move from SAPA to Paradise Cemetery, which will be his final resting place.
“The Bowl is closer to the cemetery and it is also historic in that the first time he qualified for the (calypso) semi-finals, he would have made his debut at the bowl,” Regrello said.
Regrello said the family had chosen Roodal Cemetery on Lady Hailes Avenue for burial, but was convinced to consider Paradise Cemetery located on Keate Street and Black Stalin Street (formerly Lord Street), near to where Calliste grew up.
“We thought Paradise Cemetery was most appropriate in that many other distinguished calypsonians are at peace there, including Ras Shorty I and the Roaring Lion. “As a gift to him, we wanted him to be among his peers.”
Stalin, whose musical appeal extended beyond local shores, died on Wednesday at the age of 81.
He suffered a stroke in 2014 after performing at a concert in aid of the St Andrew’s Anglican Church restoration fund.
The five-time calypso monarch was never able to grace the stage after his stroke.
During his recovery, however, he was never abandoned by fellow calypsonians who often made the trek to his Turton Street home to visit, to old-talk and perform for him at random times and on special occasions.