Kelvin ‘Mighty Duke’ Pope Passes Away

The Mighty Duke’s Send-Off – January 22, 2009

TrinidadandTobagoNews.com 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.

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 TrinidadAndTobagoNews.com, 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. 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. Below is a list of some of the songs that he 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

Statement from the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs.

MEDIA STATEMENT

On behalf of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs and by extension the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and on my own behalf, I extend my deepest condolences to the bereaved left by Kelvin Pope, known on stage as the Mighty Duke.

In the 1930s, Duke was born in Point Fortin, a community known for its extraordinary number of entertainers. It was also in this oil town where his social conscience was formed. Duke grew up in a home where calypso was a staple and it was only natural that he would join the calypso fraternity as a prolific composer. He wrote his first song in the 1950s.

The Mighty Duke accomplished a feat that many say may never be repeated in calypso history. He earned the moniker “a Pope, a Duke and a King” when he set a record as the quadruple winner of the crown, Calypso King of the World, at four consecutive Dimanche Gras shows from 1968 – 1971.

He was regarded by many as being on par with Calypso stalwarts like Aldwin “Kitchener” Roberts, who also died during a Carnival season. Among the Mighty Duke’s early contemporaries were Maestro, Stalin, Power, Ras Shorty I and Composer.

The career of this national calypso icon spanned over four decades during which he made an invaluable contribution to Trinidad and Tobago’s calypso heritage. The national community will miss not only his gentlemanly demeanour but also his unique sartorial elegance.

May he rest in peace.

Honourable Marlene McDonald
Minister

1995 – Don’t Destroy Calypso

Related News:

The Duke who was King
By SUZANNE SHEPPARD Saturday, January 17 2009
HE STOOD tall physically and musically, dominating the world of calypso and earning his place as one of the icons of the artform in a career than spanned more than five decades.

Duke to be honoured in PoS, Pt Fortin January 17, 2009
Veteran calypsonian Hollis Liverpool (Chalkdust) said yesterday his late comrade Kelvin Pope’s beloved classic How Many More Must Die will be sung at his send-off at Coronation Park, Pt Fortin, on January 22nd.

Mc Donald mourns Duke January 17, 2009
CULTURE Minister Marlene Mc Donald said the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) has pledged to assist the family of the late Kelvin “Duke” Pope with funeral costs, as she vowed to also help where required.

Just a tribute
Black Prince on ‘controversial’ song about Mighty Duke:
January 17, 2009
Now, with Kelvin Pope’s passing on Wednesday, Prince is wondering if the song, which is based on the robbery and assault of the late calypsonian on Holy Thursday (March 17) last year, will be called to question for either upholding or degrading the icon’s image.

Duke to be buried next week
Funeral arrangements for Kelvin Pope – “The Mighty Duke” are still being finalised, but it may take place next Wednesday or Thursday.

Duke is dead
The Mighty Duke is dead.

‘Mister Carnival’ no more
VETERAN calypsonian Mighty Duke (Kelvin Pope), described by many within the fraternity as ‘Mister Carnival’, died yesterday at Ellerslie Private Hospital after a long battle with bone marrow cancer. He was 76.

Kaiso greats sing praises to a champion

Tributes pour in

A gifted songwriter

Duke was good not great

The Dying Art—penned for ’09 Monarch contest

The Mighty Duke’s Send-Off January 22, 2009

28 Responses to “Kelvin ‘Mighty Duke’ Pope Passes Away”


  • So sorry to hear the Mighty Duke has gone , these artistes who are now leaving,the like of them will never be seen again in TnT.May they enjoy his music in heaven. God bless. (Mike working in India).

  • Long live the legend, the Mighty Duke. I am glad that both Trinidad and St.Vincent and the Grenadines claim this great Caribbean man. I met him in SVG in 2008 and it was great to finally meet him.

    May he rest in peace.

  • patsy skeete,montreal canada

    one of the top well dressed and handsomest calypsonians of trinidad and tobago!!
    also,very well talented.from a child,i have listened and admired you.now,you have gone to a better place.
    on behalf of my family, my deepest sympathy to your family.

  • My deepest condolences to Duke’s wife, children and extended family. Years ago, on occasions I will meet Duke at the Vendors Mall on federick Street, (we had the same tailor) and he was always a very charming man. REST IN PEACE. Kiya.

  • Kester O'connor (london UK)

    Duke was a great man of the art form and he will be greatly missed for his humour and style of dress. RIP.

  • Ricardo S. Telemaque

    May the Almighty Creator guide,bless and keep you close. May you also rest in peace. My prayers are with his family and love ones,God bless always.

  • My condolences to the family and friends lord mighty Duke. With much love to my neice Makeda stand strong. Love always aunty Annmarie..

  • condolence to my cousin Makeda for the lost of your dad together me and mom your aunty Annmarie we will always be there for you we love you… from New york.

  • Rhonda Hypolite, Brooklyn NY

    My deepest condolences to his wife, kids and family may he rest in peace.I thank God i had the pleasure to know him personally and he was a very down to earth kind and loving person, u will b missed darling. I know he’s better of where he is now, and he left us in the season he loved most just like Kitchener now u all can sing together up there. May u R I P Kelvin Pope!!!

  • The calypso feternity has lost another master of the art, one of his numbers that could be the starting of any radio show is ” teach the children’ and I wish someone could take the oppunitity his dreams and vibration would always stay alive as long as we celebrate carnival

  • Beverley, Pleasantville

    He was known as the best dress calypsonian, an extraordinary performer and writer whose inspiration captured international attension with his social commentries and humerius lyrics, he would always be remembered and be the insperation to the real up and coming calypsonians, my the good lord bless and keep him.

  • Giselle Sealey brooklyn NY

    My condolences to the family. May He Rest In Peace

  • PATRICIA ELWIN ANTIGUA

    HE WILL BE GRATELY MISS BUT HIS GOOD WORK WILL LIVE ON MY DAUGHTER HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING HIM ONLY LAST YEAR FEB. AT A PARTS PLACE IN ST JAMES. R.I.P. BIG MAN

  • the duke is just another link to what makes trinidad and tobago a country to be remember for some form for unforgetable music. please we are losing them one by one so we must raise more artist to replace singers and to keep our culture going. duke a great great performer for many years. my condolences goes out to his friends and family. duke was great and hope he takes it up there wherever he go’s great career duke proud of you

  • Judy, Trini in New Jersey

    His footsteps will forever grace the calypso arenas and his music will forever live on. Gone but will live eternally through the legacy he has left behind.

  • Rev. Dr. J.L. Miller

    Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean has truly lost one of its entertainment icon. As a son of the soil Kelvin Pope “Mighty Duke” represented the Twin Island State where-ever he went with great respect, integrity and dignity. My deep and sincere condolences to his bereaved family and the many fans he has left worldwide.

    In Christ,

    Joachim

  • Jan 18, 2009.

    Kilvin Pope: One of the most respectful man I’ve ever met. He shared special moments with all his friends, this tall and gentle giant did touch everyone soul with his beautiful smile. He will continue to spread his love in Heaven with Lord Kitch, Jazzy, Sonny, young lady Onika, and all the late “Great one”, my God keep his Wife and his intire family strong….Jahmela Jacobson Ince, NY.

  • It is with sadness that I received news of Kelvin’Duke’Pope passing. I grew up listening and loving Duke style of calypsoes, He never failed to bring a smile to our lips with his uncanny sense of humor. He made us extremely proud with classics ‘Black is Beautiful’,’Harps of Gold’,’What is Calypso?’ ‘How many more must die?’ and ‘Memories of 2000’.The latter was very ironic in which he paid significant tribute to fellow calypsonian ‘Kitchener’, the same could be sung of Duke. My condolences to his family. In closing let’s take a line from one of Duke’s famous songs, “All them nice tunes we sing all them duke and stalin on the shelf like you want them to play them self”.
    Rest peacefully, Well done.

  • To the best dressed calypsonian, rest in peace

  • Kerwin Simon "Brooklyn New York"

    My deepest condolences to the family and the entire calypso world. Duke will live on in each and every one of us who loved his music. May he continue to sing with the angels and all the great ones who went before him. Rest in peace “Mighty Duke”
    We will miss him for the Mother’s Day show in Brooklyn College.

  • Dr. Eugenia Springer

    Thanks, Duke. Let Melody, Spoiler, Roaring Lion, Merchant, Kitch, Pretender, Ras Shorty I, Lady B, Sundar Popo, and all your other fellow bards, who documented our way of life in song/calypso, and whose rhythms live on in us, know, we have not forgotten them. And you, my dear friend, you can not be forgotten.

    “How Many More Must Die” reverberates throughout our consciousness every time we sweep our glance across our headline world news, and across our local headline news.

    You have enriched us all culturally, Duke. You represented us well. Now you precede us to a dimension about which we have so many questions and beliefs. Is there some measure of consciousness after what we call death? Or, is there absolutely no knowing? If there is any measure of consciousness, may you rest in peace — you, and our other icons — Jizelle Salandy, and our former Senator, Irwin Merritt, who took their leave around the same time you took yours.

    So long, our dear elegant son of the soil; and may your soul rest in peace.

  • Jeff,De Admiral, Hinds

    My deepest condolences to the Pope family and as part of the World of Calypso we have all lost a true son of the artform.

    I was privaleged to perform on the same stage as the Great Man when he appeared as a special guest through the Calypso Season in London, England three years or so ago.

    A modest and wonderful individual who has certainly left a positive mark on this world that we are all just passing through.

    May he rest in peace and rise in glory alongside the most high.

  • Angela Hills-Charles

    MY CONDOLENCES TO THE POPE FAMILY HE WILL BE MISSED MAY HE REST IN PEACE

  • Rebecca acept my condolences from your sister charmaine, take good care of my boy and may god richly bless you. I am so so sorry for your loss, i always kept hope when i heard dike was not well, i want to tell you to keep positive people around you at all times, never allow negative forces to cpme near you and keep a positive attitude in christ jesus and god will take it from their. from your sister charmaine.

  • Iva Ashford-Alexander

    Condolences to the Pope family, the residents of T&T and the Calypso fraternity. Remarkable entertainer, rest in peace you will be sadly missed but not forgotten.

  • rebecca wendell makeda osassie pope

    Thank u . For all the love and support from fans friends and family . we appreciate everything that has been said and done . there are no words to express the lost we feel . but we can let his memories live on through his music . so please as a request from the family keep his music alive .thank u for all the love and support .

  • Dr. Eugenia Springer

    Gone but not forgotten.

  • Anthony C Hernandez

    Kelvin was a great entertainer one of my favorates, his voice was unique a perfect gentleman, he will be surely miss by the Hernandez familys from Bregon Park, Linda Street and Myra lane D’Abadie.

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