It is that time of year again in California when music and arts feature at the Coachella Festival. The annual festival held in the Inland Empire’s Coachella Valley features musical artists from many genres including rock, pop, indie, hip hop, and electronic dance music. This year, US-based Trinbagonian Calypso Rose makes a historic debut as the oldest performer, and the first calypsonian, to grace the stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Rose is scheduled to perform on April 12th and April 19th.
For this Caribbean songstress, it is another history-making moment in her sixty-four-year trailblazing career. A rose by any other name is still a rose, born Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis, her debut name was Crusoe Kid. The talents of this kid hailing from Bethel Village, Tobago, was soon recognized and her managers promptly changed her name to Calypso Rose, “the Rose is the mother of all flowers”. As like a rose she bloomed despite the thorny experiences.
Rose, an advocate for non-violence against women, was awarded her native country’s highest award, the Order of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago in 2017. She recalls the trying times of being told that being a woman, even with the popularity of her 1966 hit “Fire In Me Wire,” she would not win Trinbago’s Carnival annual Road March competition. Some years later in 1975, despite her hit “Do Dem Back,” again she was unsuccessful in her bid for the Road March title https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMmFL0fRnU4
As a real trailblazer, Rose triumphed through the thorns and in 1977 she made history in her homeland becoming the first female to win a Road March title with “Gimme More Tempo”. Years later in 2017, her album, Far From Home, went on to win the World Album of the Year at the Victory de la Musique ceremony in France, which is considered to be the French equivalent of the Grammy Awards. She was also the first Trinidadian national to win the 2016 Artist Award by the World Music Expo, which is an international networking platform for the world music industry.
Over time Calypso Rose become well-known for her risqué use of double-entendres. Rose was also quite vocal in promoting awareness of gender issues with offerings such as; “Solomon”, “No Madam”, and “The Other Woman”. Her latest song produced in 2018, “Leave Me Alone”, is a commentary on harassment featured soca superstar Machel Montano and rebel rocker Manu Chao. With well over 800 songs and 30 albums, Rose has helped to define the calypso art form while shattering the genre’s gender biases.
Rose is one of eight artists who was filmed in their homelands for mini-documentaries that will be included in the 2019 Coachella Curated weekend two streaming program. This once Crusoe Kid, who was adopted at age nine by an aunt and uncle and raised in Trinidad, composed her first calypso “Glass Thief” when she was fifteen years old after witnessing a robber snatch a pair of spectacles off of a woman’s face. A similar experience of a nineteen-year-old boy, jumping on stage and asking her to ‘marry” led to the remake of her tune “Young Boy” which she performed with Montano at Coachella on April 12, 2019.
Currently, Calypso Rose resides in Queens, New York. In December 2018 Rose was honored with the Grand Prize for World Music at France’s SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers, and Music Publishers) Grand Prix annual music awards. All of the many awards, plaques, and trophies will be made part of a permanent interactive exhibition at the Fort King George, The Icons of Tobago Museum.
For this Rose, the trail continues as in May, the Caribbean-born songstress would begin a four-month European tour in Paris. She is expected to travel to Trinidad in August and return to France in October and possibly tour Japan later in the year.
By Kerriann Toby
Kerriann Toby is a dynamic therapist currently pursuing her Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD). She is a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and has trained as a cyber counselor. Her areas of experience, expertise, and interest include child development, sexual and reproductive health, gender-related matters, marriage and family life and promoting the idea of positive psychology, using strengths to support mental health and wellbeing.
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