Solo, left with mike, performs in 2005 at the Sisserou Hotel. He died 1 January 2023
Solo, left with mike, performs in 2005 at the Sisserou Hotel. He died 1 January 2023

Here is the obituary of Melvin 'Solo' Constant, who was laid to rest on Monday, 30 January 2023

Melvin Constant, affectionately known as 'Solo', Lord Solo, and King Solo, was born to his parents, Githa Titre and Felix Constant, on the 11th of October 1948. Melvin, the only child of his mother, Githa, was lovingly raised in River Street in Roseau by his mother and grandmother, Ma Coo Coo. Melvin was the 'Apple of his Mother's Eyes', and everyone who knows this family has heard Ma Githa, as his mother is known by all, to describe him as 'her one piece of gold'. However, he actually could have been described as an 'Infirmary baby,' spending most of his childhood days in and out of the Old Infirmary by the mouth of the Roseau River, from 16 years to her retirement, Ma Githa began working there with her mom who worked at the Infirmary for over 50 years herself.

Melvin worked in the Public Service for many years as a young adult. To say he loved music was an understatement! He was a singer who showed his skill firstly as a soul singer through a Trio singing group, The Jerries, with his lifelong friends Lennox Jeremiah (now deceased) and Clovel (who founded the group). Lorraine Thomas, a friend of the group members, designed their shirts for performances at that time. He started his Calypso career in the late 1960s and, by 1969, was a calypsonian who was a contender to be reckoned with. Melvin was one of only three Dominican calypsonians who could boast of being a three-peat Calypso King. Melvin was a four-time Calypso King, winning the crown for the first time in 1973, then consecutively in 1975, 1976, and 1977. Some of his noteworthy Calypsos include 'I Pleasing me Fans,' 'Black Man Leads the Way,' 'Advantage,' 'Janie Scandal,' 'Symbort', 'Licks for 76' and of course, the classic 'Mas in the Cemetery.'

Popular with the ladies

Melvin's popularity as a performer made him very popular with the ladies. He had ten children: Mervin, Stephenson, Kervin, Kelvin, Ornica, Lystra, Eva, Kendel, Byron, and Alvin (deceased), 22 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Most of his children remember spending time together, making fond memories in Cork Street at the home of Kervin, Kelvin, and Ornica. Their uncles Brotherme and Randolph, and their Aunt Annie, who up to his death considered Melvin their brother, remember Melvin and his friends finding Symbort, a character in the 70's who had been known as a human dictionary, and the crew bathing, feeding and guarding him from drinking before the night of the 1976 Calypso finals. On that night, to the complete surprise of the patrons, Symbort appeared with Melvin on stage, and the performance brought the crowd to its feet, and King Solo won the second of his three-peat.

After winning the Calypso crown in 1977, Melvin migrated to the US in 1978, where he reconnected with his childhood sweetheart, Shirley, and they were married in 1980. They lived together in the US, helping their children and grandchildren as they started school, completed school, and grew into adulthood. There were many memorable cook-ups, thanksgiving dinners, Christmas dinners, babysitting evenings, and simple backyard barbeques with so much laughter and memories to last a lifetime.

Life in the USA

In the US, Melvin, a licensed cosmetologist, worked as a barber until he retired in 2019. Like all of us, Melvin was not perfect, but he lived his life the best he knew how. Since his retirement, Melvin had planned to travel with his wife, Shirley, to enjoy his retirement.

COVID-19 curtailed their plans till last year when he and his wife Shirley celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary. They also took a cruise in October last year, passing through St. Martin, allowing Melvin to spend time with his son, Stephenson, and meet one of his grandsons he had never met. His wife Shirley recalls their cruise as one of their happiest holidays together. Then, in December of 2022, he and his wife travelled to Dominica to spend Christmas with his mom. It was a time that his mom would remember fondly. Along with his wife Shirley, Melvin had always taken care of his mother, and she called him her piece of gold. Ma Giffa described their time on this holiday as so special as she and Melvin spent lots of time reminiscing, sharing the meals they had prepared together, and enjoying times with long-time friends visiting him, and she heard him laugh and be happy.

Melvin's presentations and stage props were before his time. They set the tone for presentations like "Wild Wild West" of Daddy Chess and Dice's "Tarzan in the Jungle" that, like "Mass in the Cemetery", will be forever etched in the memories of Calypso lovers of Dominica. Melvin, King Solo was the kind of calypsonian who took his craft to a level that made it unforgettable. For generations, calypsonians will remember him and continue to work to attain his achievements in the Calypso arena. He was acknowledged and honoured by his calypsonian peers numerous times and was happiest when performing or interviewing about his Calypso days. One of the most significant accolades a man can receive is to be acknowledged and respected by others in his profession. After over 40 years, every year, the classic 'Mass in the Cemetery' is still asked for in Dominica's Calypso season. What an honour! What a legacy!

Died on New Year's Day

Sadly, to the complete dismay of his family and friends, on the 1st day of this New Year 2023, two weeks into his holidays, an unfortunate accident resulted in Melvin's untimely death. The sudden death shocked his family, friends, fans, and all those who loved him. Melvin will be remembered primarily during carnival and certainly whenever one of his Calypsos plays. However, Melvin's death leaves sadness and an endless emptiness for his wife Shirley, his children, and all who love him. Though we cannot question God and why he took Melvin so suddenly and unexpectedly, we trust God even as we know our hearts will ache so much whenever we remember him gone from this life forever.

Melvin Solo Constant, you will never be forgotten! You will indeed be missed by your wife, Shirley and your children, grand and great-grand and their spouses, friends like Dan, Clovelle, Alvin Allo Bernard, adopted brother Frank and his family, your neighbours and friends watching out for your mum in Bath Estate and all over Dominica, your in-laws Patricia and Zenaida and the rest of the family, your brother and sister Brotherme and Annie and their families, your Calypso fraternity and all your friends in the US, Dominica and all over the world.

Rest in Eternal Peace, Melvin Constant, Lord Solo, Mighty Solo King Solo! Let's hope you get to meet and sing with Cissy Caudeiron, Eddy Martin, and all the musicians and characters you highlighted and brought awareness to in your many Calypsos over the years. May the angels of God welcome you home, and may you hear the words well done, faithful servant, as you find eternal peace in the arms of the God who blessed you with the talent you used so well in your days on earth!