Antiguan calypsonian King Swallow (Sir Rupert Philo) is in hospital in New York after falling ill while performing in the run-up to Labor Day.
Swallow, 75, was taken to King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn, according to Antigua News Room, but the nature of his illness is unknown.
Born in Willikies on 14 February 1942, Swallow gained his soubriquet at school where he used to sing in class. He first competed in 1961 with his song Raphael Trujillo, credited by former prime minister the Hon Lester Bryant Bird as marking “the birth of the political calypso in Antigua”.
He has worn the Calypso Monarch crown four times. However, he only turned professional in 1978 after losing his job working for regional airline LIAT. Swallow said that this momentous decision was helped by the warm reception he received in Trinidad for his calypso Man to Man. Fire In The Back Seat, I Want To Wine On Something and Subway Jam represent the party end of Swallow’s calypsoca spectrum.
Swallow has been a regular visitor to New York and is said to be the first calypsonian to have performed at NY’s famous Radio City Music Hall. Nicknamed the Dean of Calypso, Swallow established Antigua’s oldest calypso tent, the Calypso Pepper Pot, and also ran a record shop.
Rupert Philo has been awarded the Order of Merit (Gold) and the Grand Cross of Princely Heritage, and in 2011 PM Bird recognised his 50 years of artistry and excellence by nominating him to be honoured with a knighthood.
Soca News wishes King Swallow a speedy recovery.