The poet and musician Anthony Joseph met and spoke to Lord Kitchener just once, in 1984, when he found the calypso icon standing alone for a moment in the heat of Port of Spain’s Queen’s Park Savannah, one Carnival Monday afternoon. It was a pivotal meeting in which the great calypsonian, outlined his musical vision, an event which forms a moving epilogue to Kitch, Joseph’s unique biography of the Grandmaster. Lord Kitchener (1922 - 2000) was one of the most iconic and prolific calypso artists of the 20th century. He was one of calypso’s most loved exponents, an always elegantly dressed troubadour with old time male charisma and the ability to tap into the musical and cultural consciousness of the Caribbean experience.
Born into colonial Trinidad in 1922, he emerged in the 1950s, at the forefront of multicultural Britain, acting as an intermediary between the growing Caribbean community, the islands they had left behind, and the often hostile conditions of life in post War Britain. In the process Kitch, as he was affectionally called, single handedly popularised the calypso in Britain.
Kitch represents the first biographical study of Aldwyn Roberts, according to calypso lore, christened Lord Kitchener, because of his stature and enthusiasm for the art form. Utilising an innovative, polyvocal style which combines life-writing with poetic prose, the narrative alternates between first person anecdotes by Kitchener’s fellow calypsonians, musicians, lovers and rivals, and lyrically rich fictionalised passages. By focussing equally on Kitchener’s music as on his hitherto undocumented private and political life, Joseph gets to the heart of the man behind the music and the myth, reaching behind the sobriquet, to present a holistic portrait of the calypso icon.