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Alston “Becket” Cyrus. (iWN file photo)
Alston “Becket” Cyrus. (iWN file photo)
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The “ABC of Calypso”, Vincentian Alston “Becket” Cyrus, is getting more letters to his name.

He is to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) degree from the University of the West Indies, for his work as a soca artiste/composer.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) says Cyrus, of Layou, is among 16 outstanding global citizens that it will welcome to its graduation stage this year.

“In keeping with annual tradition across the five campuses, the University Council has approved conferral of the 16 at The UWI’s 2022 Graduation Ceremonies,” the university said.

“The honorary graduands, recognised for their contributions to several areas including sport, culture, law, business, and science will join the 2022 graduating class in-person this year, as a majority of campuses return to face-to-face ceremonies. However, The UWI Open Campus will retain the hosting of a virtual graduation ceremony…

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“This year’s honorary graduands join the ranks of a prestigious list of fewer than 500 persons who have been awarded since 1985. “

Cyrus will receive his award during the graduation ceremony of the Five Islands Campus on Oct. 8.

UWI issued the following citation:

Mr. Alston BECKET Cyrus

Alston “Becket” Cyrus is an outstanding Caribbean soca/ragga-soca/calypso artiste and composer. He has fostered an illustrious 47-year career with 28 albums; numerous award-winning singles; one movie soundtrack—‘Disco Calypso’, in the motion picture The Deep; five compositions featured in four American TV programmes including “Full House” and “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno”, and eight Road March titles, all to his credit.

He first came to the spotlight in 1975 when he was crowned St. Vincent’s Calypso Monarch with two songs “Carnival History” and “Mass at Victoria”. In his long career, he has performed on stages across North America, Britain, Colombia, Spain and the Caribbean. He is also one of only a few calypsonians to be signed by a major record label: Casablanca Records in 1977, alongside artistes such as Donna Summer and KISS.

Becket’s international hits include ‘Coming High’ (1977) on which he worked with Dr. Frankie McIntosh, acclaimed Calypso/Reggae arranger and “Teaser” (1990) which was released from BECKET’s own label Cocoa Records and subsequently recorded in over 10 languages. In Germany, ‘Teaser’ was released by Polydor recording label, one of the world’s largest.  In 1994 ‘Ella me Vacilla/Esa Chica’, the Spanish version of “Teaser” was named Salsa/Tropical Song of the Year by Billboard/Univision.

While he is well known for entertaining songs like “Small Pin”, “Gal Ah Rush Me” and “Doh Eat And Lie Down” his music has gone beyond party music. He made regional and international social commentary on a wide array of topics including politics, cricket, black pride and human rights with songs like “I am an African”; “Grenada Will Rise Again”; “Laramania”; “President Obama” and his 1984 song “Love is the Answer” which was remade in 2011 to commemorate 9/11. In commemoration of the Caribbean hosting the 2007 Cricket World Cup, BECKET released “Cricket Is We Ting”, an album containing 10 original tracks all about cricket.

In 2000, Alston “Becket” Cyrus became the first Caribbean artiste to perform at the US Open tennis tournament and was listed as one of the 17 Outstanding Caribbean Personalities of the 20th Century. In 2001 he was named a Goodwill Ambassador for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in 2010 became the first soca/calypso artiste to perform at the Montreal International Reggae Festival, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 

The other honourees are:

  • Sir Richard Benjamin Richardson of Antigua and Barbuda for his contribution to sport – Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, PhD, LLM of Dominica for her work in international labour and maritime law – Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Sir Hugh Anthony Rawlins of St. Kitts and Nevis for contributions to the judicial arena – Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Dr. Joy St. John of Barbados for her work in medicine and public health leadership – Doctor of Science (DSc)
  • His Excellency Ambassador Gabriel Abed of Barbados/UAE for entrepreneurship and pioneering digital currency – Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Mr. E. Neville Isdell of Ireland for contributions to business and philanthropy – Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted of Trinidad and Tobago for contributions to agricultural science and nutrition – Doctor of Science (DSc)
  • Ms. Ingrid L-A Lashley of Trinidad and Tobago for her work in corporate banking/finance – Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Ms. Rosalind Gabriel of Trinidad and Tobago for her work as a band leader/entertainer – Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
  • Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick of Trinidad and Tobago for contributions to surgical science – Doctor of Science (DSc)
  • Lord Robert Nelson of Trinidad and Tobago for contributions to culture and calypso – Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
  • Professor The Honourable Orlando Patterson of Jamaica for his work as a historical and cultural sociologist – Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
  • Senator The Honourable Dr. Rosemary Moodie of Jamaica/Canada for paediatric medicine and philanthropy – Doctor of Science (DSc)
  • Mr. Adam Stewart of Jamaica for his work as an entrepreneur/philanthropist – Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Ms. Diane Jaffee of the United States for her work in finance – Doctor of Laws (LLD)

3 replies on “Becket to receive honorary doctorate from UWI”

  1. This is great for Becket, Layou and SVG. I hope Becket will take an idea I floated some years ago. Many of the LP cases for many of his songs can be placed on the walls of the Layou library. The cases don’t have to include the records. – just the empty cases.

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