ALDWYN ROBERTS

PIONEERS

Better known as Lord Kitchener, Aldwyn Roberts goes down in history as one of the greatest calypsonians who first made his mark in the UK on board the Empire Windrush

1923-2000

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Aldwyn Roberts aka Lord Kitchener was born in Trinidad and educated at the Arima Boys Government School until he was fourteen. His father helped him to develop his singing voice and also taught him to play the guitar. His first job as a musician was playing guitar for Water Scheme labourers while they laid pipes in the San Fernando Valley. But after winning the Arima borough council’s calypso competition five times between 1938 and 1942 there was no stopping him.

In 1943 he moved to Port of Spain where he met calypsonian Growling Tiger, who advised him to take the name ‘Lord Kitchener’, which was later shortened to ‘Kitch’.

It was while on a tour to Jamaica with Egbert Moore (Lord Beginner) and Lord Woodbine (Harold Phillips) that he heard about the MV Empire Windrush’s impending voyage to Britain. The three decided to book their passage along with hundreds of other Caribbean passengers.
It was Kitch who would come to symbolise the naive optimism of the adventurers on board when he performed the specially-written calypso, ‘London is the Place for Me’, on the deck of the ship for Pathé News.

Kitch’s first residency was at a pub in Brixton, south London. He played a significant role in the popularity of calypso in the UK during the 1950s, becoming a regular performer on BBC Radio as well as enjoying a successful residency at The Sunset Club in London. Later he opened a nightclub in Manchester.

Kitch returned to Trinidad in 1962. He won the ‘road march’ competitions 10 times between 1963 and 1976, more often than any other calypsonian, though his biggest rival was Mighty Sparrow.
For 30 years, he ran his own calypso tent, Calypso Revue, where he nurtured talented calypsonians like Calypso Rose and David Rudder. Kitchener’s compositions always proved popular as the chosen selections for steel bands to perform at the annual National Panorama competition during Trinidad Carnival.

Kitchener adopted the new soca genre on a number of albums from the mid-1970s. His most commercially successful song, and one of the earliest major soca hits, was ‘Sugar Bum Bum’ in 1978.

He is honoured with a statue in Port of Spain. A bust is also on display in Arima.

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