Black is Beautiful: Honouring the Mighty Duke
Event Date: July 28, 2007
Posted: July 31, 2007
The Emancipation Support Committee presented a tribute concert in honour of the Calypsonian 'Duke' at the Lidj Yasu Omawale Emancipation Village at Jean Pierre Complex on Saturday 28th July, 2007. The concert titled "Black is Beautiful" took its name from the classic song by the 'Mighty Duke'. Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope is the only Calypsonian in the history of Trinidad and Tobago Calypso to ever win the National Calypso Monarch title four consecutive times, doing so from 1968 to 1971. Born in south Trinidad, he is renowned for delivering social commentary, political and witty, humorous songs with equal skill and lyrical mastery. Some of 'Duke's classic songs over the years include "Social Bacchanal", "Black is Beautiful", "How Many More Must Die", "Brotherhood of Man", "Black Skin, White Mask" and "Melvie and Yvonne."
|Kelvin Pope - 'The Mighty Duke'|| |
Before the show had officially begun, members of the audience were treated to the sweet sounds of the PCS Starlift Steel Orchestra who played several wonderful Calypso tunes for the enjoyment of the patrons in attendance.
Dwayne O'Connor, who reached the 2007 National Calypso Monarch Finals with his song "Sartorial Elegance", a song that pays tribute to 'Duke', kicked off the show with a rendition of this song. During this time, 'Mighty Duke' who was sartorially elegant as usual, made his way from the backstage area, along with his wife Rebecca and son Osassie, to take his seat at the front, to the applause of the audience. Backed by Kelly Green and Harmony, O'Connor launched into a rendition of 'Duke's classic anti-Apartheid song "How Many More Must Die".
Following O'Connor's performance, Singing Sandra came to the stage and sang her perennial favourite "Voices from the Ghetto". She admitted that she was unable to learn the lyrics of an entire 'Duke' song in time for the concert, but thanked him for his support over the years. She then sang the hit song "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", and with the audience singing along, came down into the audience and embraced 'Duke'.
The Master of Ceremony, Phil Simmons, introduced veteran Calypsonian Brother Valentino, declaring that the Zimbabwean President should be presented with a copy of his classic song "Stay Up Zimbabwe". After singing this loveable and very relevant anthem, Brother Valentino thrilled the crowd by rendering one of 'Duke's resistance songs. Following his performance, MC Phil Simmons commented that it is a crying shame that the West Indies refused to go to Zimbabwe to play cricket, referring to the refusal by the West Indies Players Association to allow the West Indies A Team to tour Zimbabwe.
Lorraine Klassen, the South African singer, thrilled the crowd with several songs including a couple of selections, the "Click Song" and "Mailaika", made popular by fellow South African singer Miriam Makeba. She said that it was only recently that she had become familiar with 'Duke's music, and thanked him for the contribution that he has made to freeing South Africa. She closed by inviting 'Duke' to her homeland, South Africa.
After the fifteen minute intermission, the Lydian Singers took to the stage singing hit after hit to the delight of the audience.
Next, Austin 'Super Blue' Lyons took to the stage with his usual energy. Clad in blue, he wished 'Duke' all the best, declaring that 'Duke' is a composer of composers, and that you have to listen to him to get it. 'Super Blue' paid tribute to 'Duke' in song, and walked into the audience to embrace the 'Mighty Duke' several times during his stint on stage.
The 'Mighty Duke', the star of the concert then took to the stage, looking regal in a flowing black and white African robe. 'Duke', well into his seventies looked twenty years younger as he treated the audience to several of his classic songs. He started with "Teach the Children" a song that expressed that while they were taught British history in school, they were never taught Black history. In song he outlined the rich history of Africans and pointed to several books that would inform persons about this legacy. To the pleasure of the audience, he launched into "Black is Beautiful" as the audience sang along with the refrain, moving with the grace and dignity that has characterized his career over the years.
Khafra Kambon, Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee presented the Henry Sylvester Williams Award to Kelvin Pope, the 'Mighty Duke'. Kambon highlighted the great contribution of Kelvin Pope to the culture of Trinidad and Tobago, hailing him as a master in all the Calypso genres.
The night ended on a sweet note, with the 'Mighty Duke' treating the audience to another song about the importance of identity and African roots.
'Duke's performance and lyrics demonstrate his enduring legacy and he remains a living testament of the role of Calypsonians to speak to the issues of the people.
'Black is Beautiful' Concert in Tribute to 'Duke' in pictures: