One of the greatest calypsonians of all times, Atilla the Hun (1892-1962) started his musical career as a chantwell (lead singer) for a Carnival masquerade band in Port of Spain, Trinidad. By the 1920s, he was singing in calypso tents and soon became a very popular performer. Along with the Roaring Lion and other calypsonians, he helped to establish the Victory Tent and to introduce such innovations as calypso duets and calypso dramas. (An early drama dealt with the then contentious issue of divorce in Trinidad.) In 1934 Atilla and Lion traveled to New York to record for the American Record Company. While there, they met Rudy Vallee and appeared on his weekly radio broadcast. The historic broadcast reached all the way to Trinidad.
Though Atilla composed calypsos on a wide range of topics, his specialty was politics, particularly the experience of working people in a colonial society. He was admired for both his eloquence and keen observation of detail. Among his many well-known songs are "Graf Zeppelin" (about the German dirigible's visit to Trinidad) and "Treasury Scandal" (on missing funds). While continuing to perform as a calypsonian, Atilla was elected to the Port of Spain City Council in 1946 and later became the Deputy Mayor. In 1950 he was elected to Trinidad's Legislative Council. Atilla also helped to publish booklets of calypso lyrics. After his death, his writings on calypso were compiled in a book titled Atilla's Kaiso: A Short History of Trinidad Calypso (1983).
Together with the Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) he was brought calypso to the United States for the first time in 1934.
* Quevedo, Raymond (Atilla the Hun). 1983. Atilla's Kaiso: a short history of Trinidad calypso. University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. (Includes the words to many old calypsos as well as musical scores for some of Atilla's calypsos.)
* Hill, Donald R. 1993. Calypso: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad. University of Florida. (includes a CD of early calypso music.)