Val McCalla

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Val Irvine McCalla (3 October 1943 – 22 August 2002) was a Jamaican accountant and media entrepreneur who settled in Britain in 1959. He is best known as the founder of The Voice, a British weekly newspaper aimed at the Britain's black community, which he established in 1982 as a voice for the British African-Caribbean community. He was honoured as a pioneering publisher for the community, but also faced critics who deemed him sensationalistic.[1]

In the 100 Great Black Britons poll conducted in 1997, Val McCalla was voted number 68.[2]


Val McCalla was born in a poor part of Kingston, Jamaica.[3] After studying accountancy at Kingston College, a Jamaican high school, McCalla travelled to England in May 1959, aged 15. He joined the RAF, but a perforated eardrum put paid to his dreams of becoming a pilot and instead he honed his skills as a bookkeeper,[4] leaving in the mid-1960s.[5] He then found employment in various accounts and book-keeping positions, before working part-time on a community newspaper, East End News, based near his flat in Bethnal Green.[6] He started The Voice newspaper in 1982, with a team that included broadcaster Alex Pascall,[7][8] launching it at the Notting Hill carnival that August,[9] and bringing in Viv Broughton as marketing manager.[10]

McCalla died of liver failure on 22 August 2002, aged 58, in Seaford, East Sussex, where he was buried.[11][4][12]


  1. ^ "Memorial tributes to Voice founder". BBC News. 3 October 2002. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  2. ^ "100 Great Black Britons".
  3. ^ Andy Beckett, "The Voice in the Wilderness", The Independent, 11 February 1996.
  4. ^ a b "Val McCalla", Encyclopædia Britannica.
  5. ^ Steve Pope, "Val McCalla" (obituary), The Guardian, 24 August 2002.
  6. ^ "Val McCalla", 100 Great Black Britons.
  7. ^ Andy Beckett, "The Voice in the Wilderness", The Independent, 11 February 1996.
  8. ^ Lionel Morrison, A Century of Black Journalism in Britain: A Kaleidoscopic View of Race and the Media (1893–2003), Truebay Limited, 2007, p. 63.
  9. ^ George Ruddock, "Voice35Years: Happy Birthday To Us!", The Voice, 27 August 2017.
  10. ^ Steve Alexander Smith, "Viv Broughton", British Black Gospel: The Foundations of this Vibrant UK Sound, Monarch Books, 2009, p. 78.
  11. ^ Angelique Chrisafis, "McCalla, publisher who gave black people a voice, dies", The Guardian, 24 August 2002.
  12. ^ "Parish church packed for funeral of black newspaper's founder", Sussex Express, 5 September 2002.

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