News Releases

Professor Emeritus Rohlehr to launch book on the Mighty Sparrow

For Release Upon Receipt - August 18, 2015

St. Augustine

Professor Emeritus at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine Campus, Gordon Rohlehr has written a book about The Mighty Sparrow that, he says, includes “all kinds of moments of turbulence.” The book, My Whole Life is Calypso, will be launched on August 20, 2015 at Lecture Room B, Teaching and Learning Complex, The UWI St. Augustine Campus.   

The Mighty Sparrow is perhaps one of our most widely honoured calypsonians and public personalities, having been awarded more than 60 accolades throughout his lifetime, says Rohlehr. This local and global hero is celebrated, and even intellectually interrogated, in Rohlehr’s book. The author adds, “I set out to look at whatever might have been taking place in that 40-45 years [beyond the early music].” As such, he explores and sums up the real significance of The Mighty Sparrow’s dynamic, complicated and at times contradictory personality. 

Professor Rohlehr has been a commentator on Sparrow’s work since the 1960s. This publication represents nearly five decades of critical engagement with the work of The Mighty Sparrow, a Caribbean musical genius. In the book, Sparrow emerges as a complex character: always grounded and real as flesh, always restless and transcendent as spirit. 

The idea for writing the book My Whole Life is Calypso was born after Professor Rohlehr delivered a speech at a fundraiser in Sparrow’s honour, produced by theatre-practitioner and business owner Rawle Gibbons at the Central Bank Auditorium in February 2014. Rohlehr was the first feature speaker that night but, because of the wealth of knowledge he had on Sparrow’s life was unable to do it justice in the given time-slot. To share in-depth on what had remained unsaid, Rohlehr, encouraged by his wife, Betty Ann Rohlehr, and by Rawle Gibbons, decided to write the book in commemoration of Sparrow’s 80th birthday on July 9th 2015. 

My Whole Life is Calypso will be available at the Blue Edition bookstore on St. Vincent Street in Tunapuna. For more information on the book launch, please call 645-1491 or 663-4509. The launch begins promptly at 5pm.



About Professor Emeritus Gordon Rohlehr

Gordon Rohlehr, Professor Emeritus at The UWI St Augustine graduated in 1964 from the University College of the West Indies, Jamaica, with a First Class Honours degree in English Literature. He went on to obtain his doctorate from Birmingham University, England (1964-1967). Prof Rohlehr specializes in West Indian literature and oral poetry expressed through his socio-historical interest in Trinidad as well as the calypso and popular culture in the Caribbean. He has pioneered the academic and intellectual study of Calypso, tracing its history over several centuries. Through extensive research he has documented the movements of one genre to another and the passage of calypso through the ages. 

Between 1968 and 2004, he has written extensively on West Indian Literature, Oral Poetry, the calypso and popular culture in the Caribbean. He has held numerous interviews, prepared and participated in various radio and television programmes, and lectured throughout the Caribbean, US, Canada, and the UK. He has been visiting Professor to Harvard (Sept-Dec 1981); the Johns Hopkins University (Sept-Dec 1985); Tulane University (Jan-May 1997); Stephen F. Austin State University (Jan-May 2000); Miami University Writers' Workshop (June-July 1995);  York University Toronto (January-Feb 1996) and Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (June-August, 2004). Prof Rohlehr has been the recipient of The University of the West Indies' Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in the combined fields of Teaching, Research, Administration and Public Service (1995). 

His works include Pathfinder: Black Awakening in the Arrivants of Edward Kamau Brathwaite (Gordon Rohlehr  1981); Calypso and Society in Pre-Independence Trinidad (Gordon Rohlehr 1989); My Strangled City and Other Essays (Longman Trinidad 1992); The Shape of That Hurt and Other Essays (Longman Trinidad 1992); A Scuffling of Islands: Essays on Calypso (Lexicon Trinidad Ltd. 2004). He is also co-editor of Voiceprint: An Anthology of Oral and Related Poetry from the Caribbean (Longman 1989).  

About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)