KEVAN CALLISTE is preserving and continuing the cultural legacy of the iconic calypsonian Leroy "Black Stalin" Calliste.
While the world knows him as one of TT's great cultural ambassador, to Kevan, the son of Stalin’s daughter Abiola, he is simply granddad.
Since the legendary Stalin suffered a stroke in 2014 he has been off the performing stage.
Young Calliste, however, has been preserving and continuing his granddad’s legacy both in the calypso and extempore arenas.
While extempore is his passion, and his ability is matched by the many trophies he has won over the years, Calliste has also delved in calypso and won many junior titles. He was the Junior Calypso Monarch in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
He also entered and won the calypso category in the San Fest competition for many years and was named Mr San Fest in the Mr/Miss San Fest competition in 2017.
For 2020, Calliste has broadened his horizon auditioning for the calypso tents and succeeding in finding a place amongst the cast of Kaiso Showkase.
Kaiso Showkase will open its tent at Palms Club, San Fernando, on February 1.
In an interview at CAL Skiffle Pan Theatre, Coffee Street, San Fernando, where he has shown his proficiency on the national instrument as a bass player, Calliste said it is the first time he will be singing in a calypso tent.
He said it has been a natural progression as calypso runs in his blood.
“I’ve had my time at the Junior Calypso Monarch. I grew out of it. I was in it for seven years actually and eventually I grew out of it and from there I made my transition into the seniors. I auditioned for the tents and I got through with the Kaiso Showkase.”
“I am carrying on that legacy and I hope to do my best in doing that,” he said.
With the help of proficient calypso writer Brian London, Calliste has two songs he hopes will help him emulate the success of his grandfather, a five-time monarch.
One of the songs, produced by Kenny Phillips who is also performing in Kaiso Showkase, is a personal tribute to two legends – Stalin and Roy Cape.
Calliste said Stalin has been very instrumental in his development and in helping him to keep the focus and discipline.
“You have to be very disciplined if you want to get ahead,” he said.
His second song called Change is a social commentary on how the world is changing and evolving.
London wrote the calypso which won his nephew, Ronaldo London, the Calypso Monarch title in 2019 in his debut year in the Big Yard –Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain. Calliste is hoping London can do it twice in a row with him in his debut year in senior's calypso final.
Last year he entered the extempo seniors competition and made it to the finals. This year he is entering again.
Asked about his future, Calliste said he wants to spread the culture of TT internationally.
“I want to spread TT culture around the world, calypso, extempore and pan.”
In addition to his singing prowess, Calliste also made his debut as arranger for the Schools Junior Panorama competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah last Sunday for San Fernando Boy’s RC in the primary school category and Pan Elders Youth Orchestra in the under 21 category.