Announcing she will be celebrating her 79th birthday when she returns to perform once again for the closing weekend of Coachella, the legendary Calypso Rose made history on Friday when she became the oldest and first calypso artiste to perform a full set at the prestigious music festival.
Born Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis in Bethel Village, Tobago, Calypso Rose’s performance was both energetic and invigorating, proving why age is just a number.
After accidentally falling while dancing with a young man when she was performing her single “Young Boy”, she managed to joke about the incident singing “young boy throw me down” while her crew helped her up with the crowd applauding. She is set to return again on Friday for the final weekend of the festival.
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With several albums and over 800 songs to her name, Calypso Rose, who is also known to be a staunch feminist wrote her first calypso song, “Glass Thief”, at the age of 15 in 1955 to condemn inequality among the sexes after she saw a man steal a woman’s glasses at a market.
She went ahead to have a stellar career selling millions of records and touring the world but that was not met with setbacks just because of her sex. Though popular in her home country in the 1960’s, Billboard reports that she was categorically told by organizers of the country’s yearly Road March competition no woman would win it overlooking the success of then her “Fire In Me Wire” hit.
Persevering and refusing to give up, she made history in 1977 when she became the first female Road March winner. Subsequently, her 1978 singles “Come Leh We Jam,” “I Thank Thee” and “Her Majesty” won her three carnival crowns namely Road March, Calypso Queen and Calypso Monarch, according to Billboard. Till date, she is the only female calypsonian to have achieved this.
“I have opened the doors for a lot of female calypsonians,” she told Coachella in an interview. “Years ago, the calypso competition used to be Calypso King; Calypso King Competition.
“They never crown me, although [sic] 1968 I won the Road March with Fire in The Wire. They didn’t give it to me because they told me the calypso was too short and they cannot give a woman the Road March,” she continued.
“They have done so much injustice to me, but that didn’t keep me down. No, I wanted to do what I want to do.”
One of her recent albums, “Far from Home”, which was released in 2016 went platinum in France where she has a very huge following.
Currently residing in Queens, New York and still actively involved in music, the multi-award winning Calypso Rose is a breast cancer, stomach cancer and heart surgery survivor.
Take a look at a snippet of her performance and some of her hit songs below: