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Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope Passes Away

Kelvin ' Mighty Duke' Pope
Kelvin ' Mighty Duke' Pope Reporters
January 14, 2009
Updated: January 15, 2009

One of Calypso's greatest icons Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope passed away earlier today. Mighty Duke, who was diagnosed with myelofibrosis – a serious bone marrow disorder that disrupts the body's normal production of blood cells – has succumbed to this illness ending a battle of over four years. His wife Rebecca, one of his sons, Wendell, and Hollis 'Chalkdust' Liverpool were at his side when he passed.

Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope, his wife Rebecca and son Osassie
Kelvin "Mighty Duke" Pope, his wife Rebecca and son Osassie
Born in 1932 in Point Fortin, South Trinidad, 'Duke' over the years became renowned not only for delivering social commentary – political and witty, humorous songs with equal skill, dignity and lyrical mastery – but also for his stately stage presence and for being one of the best-dressed Calypsonians.

The Duke, as he was lovingly called, is the only Calypsonian in Trinidad and Tobago's history to have won the Calypso Monarch title four consecutive times: 1968 with "What is Calypso" and "Social Bacchanal", 1969 with "Black is Beautiful" and "One Foot Visina", 1970 with "Brotherhood of Man" and "See Through" and 1971 with "Mathematical Formula" and "Melvie and Yvonne". He also won the Road March Title with "Thunder" in 1987.

As a Calypsonian, Duke was a master lyricist who was not only interested in local issues, but over a career which lasted more than 50 years demonstrated the importance of a global awareness. With such songs as "How Many More Must Die" and "Apartheid" he was a vocal critic of colonialism and apartheid in Africa. In 1970, Mighty Duke was honored with the Humming Bird gold medal for his musical accomplishments.

Speaking with, COTT president Lutalo 'Brother Resistance' Masimba said that the Mighty Duke, who has been in and out of hospital for blood transfusions, passed away at about 1.05 p.m. today at the Ellerslie Private hospital in Maraval.

RIGHT: 'Brother Resistance', 'Mighty Duke', his wife Rebecca and three sons
RIGHT: 'Brother Resistance', 'Mighty Duke', his wife Rebecca and three sons

Brother Resistance stated that Mighty Duke has always been a light for the Network Riddum Band, the Rapso movement and the Calypso fraternity in general. Duke also supported the People's Mall in "a certain and definite way," for which he would always be remembered. Brother Resistance also said that the Duke's passing leaves, "a deep hurt in a personal way," but also a celebration for his lifelong achievements and commitment to the Calypso industry. Duke would be remembered as one of the greatest chantwells in the history of Calypso, concluded Resistance.

The Duke lived a long and fulfilling life recording Calypsos from 1964. His Calypsos remain a living testament to the momentous contribution of this mighty Trinbago Icon and he will be remembered for his passion for the Calypso art form.

LEFT: Mr. Hollis 'Chalkdust' Liverpool, Mr. Makandal Daaga, Mr. Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope, Mr. Eddie Grant and Mr. Alvin Daniell
LEFT: Mr. Hollis 'Chalkdust' Liverpool, Mr. Makandal Daaga, Mr. Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope, Mr. Eddie Grant and Mr. Alvin Daniell

Some of the songs that Duke recorded over the years:

1964 - Woop Wap; Racial Segregation
1968 - What Is Calypso, Social Bacchanal
1969 - All Night, Tonight; Black Is Beautiful; Bring It Back; One Foot Visina
1970 - Beast for Sale; Brotherhood of Man; See Through
1971 - Carnival in Trinidad
1973 - Tonight
1974 - Ah Never Do That; Ah Wish Ah Was; Axe Handle Freda; Class Is Class; Cock of the Rock
1977 - Uhuru; Mr. Jarvis; Be Yourself; Black Is Back; Calypso Will Never Die; The Cannibals; Carnival Fire
1978 - Barbers Complaints; Black Woman; Carnival Time 1979 - Bam Bam Oui; Do What You Doing
1980 - Freaking Streaking
1981 - Answer the Question; A Point of Direction
1982 - Mystery of Life; No Man But Me; Advantage; Babylon Go Fall
1983 - Love Me All Over; DJ Honeyneedle
1984 - Rock Meh; Land of Love
1985 - Ah Got The Feeling; Apartheid; Artificial World
1986 - How Many More Must Die; Treat Your Woman Nice; Ah Want You To Love Me
1987 - Thunder
1988 - Outrageous; Pan in Yuh Rookcung-Kertungcung; Acid Wash
1989 - Yahhh Hhhh; Ah Tired Do That
1991 - Get on Radical
1992 - Rocket in Yuh Pocket
1993 - Role Model; Yuh Come to Dance
1994 - Soca Have Meh Tu Bey
1995 - Don't Destroy Calypso; Get A Life
1996 - Play Yourself; Furhman
2001 - Memories of the Year
2000 - Things Change Up; Horn Proof; There's No Excuse

Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope Homepage

Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope in pictures

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