Calypso Rose, an icon of the Caribbean music scene, is as prolific an artist as they come. Despite having an award-winning career spanning 65 years, Rose continues to refine and adapt her sound to contemporary times. Her 2019 collaboration – ‘Ah Want Ah Young Man- with soca star Machel Montano is one of the most loved songs of the Carnival season, and in addition to winning the prestigious World Album of the Year award at a Victoire de la Musique award ceremony in France, she is heading to Coachella later this year, a stage on which not many artists -much less calypsonians- get to perform.
No stranger to adversity, Calyspo Rose is a survivor, having battled cancer twice – once during the 1990s and then again in 2008 – and survived rape as a child.
Calypso Rose was born Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis. She first began performing under the moniker Crusoe Kid, before she adopted the name “Calypso Rose” given to her by the calypsonian Mighty Spoiler.
Not just a prolific singer, Calypso Rose also trained as an auxiliary police officer and a criminologist when she moved to New York. Her early, post-high school jobs include working at a factory, and serving as a nanny for a Chinese family in Woodbrook.
Calypso Rose was both the first woman to win Trinidad’s prestigious “Road March” competition with her song “Gimme More Tempo,” and the first woman to win the title of “Calypso King” in 1978.
To date Rose has composed over 800 songs, and recorded over 20 albums in calypso, gospel, reggae, jazz, punta and folk.
Rose is a sensation in France, where her 2016 album Far From Homeshot straight into the Top 10. In 2017 she won the World Album of the Year award at the Victoire de la Musique award ceremony in France, the country’s equivalent of the Grammy’s.
Born in 1940 in the village of Bethel, Tobago, as one of 11 children, Rose wasn’t exposed to calypso as a child because her father, a Baptist minister, considered it the devil’s music.
She wrote her first calypso, “Glass Thief,”after seeing a man steal spectacles off a woman’s face at a market. According to her website, it was the first calypso to denounce the inequality between the sexes.
In 2017, she became the first artiste from Trinidad and Tobago to have her album (Far From Home) go international gold i.e. sell over 50,000 copies.
She is credited with changing calypso from a predominantly sexist space to one of racial, political, cultural and gender-related commentary.
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