Lord Kitchener, affectionately known as “Kitch,” composed a wide range of topical songs on a variety of national and international issues. In “Africa My Home,” he reminded many Caribbeans about their own history. “Play Mas” encouraged people to participate in liberating Carnival festivities. And “Pan in the 21st Century” looked at the development of steel drum music, which didn’t always get the respect it deserved.
His musical compositions were diverse and melodic. Kitch blended calypso with jazz, particularly bebop. He once paid tribute to Miles Davis and Charlie Parker in a rhythmic calypso tempo.
But most important of all was Kitchener’s marriage of calypso with Trinidad’s other indigenous musical form, pan, music played on steel drums. He composed and sang songs to be played on the steel drums during Carnival season. In 1944 he composed his first pan calypso, “The Beat of the Steelband,” which initiated a wonderful alliance between the steel drum movement and the calypsonian. -- Von Martin
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