Calypso Rose. Photograph By Richard Holder

Calypso Rose – an icon for International Women’s Day


Rose McCartha Linda Sandy Lewis ‑ known to millions as Calypso Rose ‑ is the undisputed Calypso Queen of the World.

Born on 27 April 1940 in Bethel, a village in Tobago, Calypso Rose started writing at the age of 13. Since then she has composed more than 1,000 songs and has over 20 albums to her name.

After she saw a man stealing the glasses from a woman in a market in 1955, Rose wrote her first calypso, Glass Thief. Musicologists later cited Glass Thief as the first calypso to denounce inequality between the sexes.

Calypso Rose made her first trip to perform outside Trinidad and Tobago in 1963, when she became the first woman to win the Calypso King title in Grenada. The title suggests that the prospect of a woman winning never occurred to the competition’s founders!

From 1974 Rose embarked on a remarkable five-year reign as Calypso Queen. She also became the first woman to win Trinidad’s prestigious Road March competition with her song Gimme More Tempo. After these triumphs the Calypso King competition was renamed Calypso

Calypso Rose has been presented with numerous honours and awards from around the world. In 1986, the calypsonian was named the Ambassador at Large of Liberia with her song, Pepper Soup and for her works in aiding the improvement of life in the West African nation. She’s also been honoured as the Most Outstanding Woman in Trinidad and Tobago by the National Womens Action Committee and has received the International Caribbean Music Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award,

As well as performing with international artists ‑ including Bob Marley and the Wailers ‑ she has kept fans entertained with albums such asSoca Diva, The Queen of Trinidad, Fire Fire, Far From Home and So Calypso!


Calypso Rose has gained a huge following in France, and on 10 February 2017 she won the Best Album in the World category at the Victoires de la Musique. Two months later she performed at the Alcaline concert in Paris and played FNAC LIVE in front of thousands of fans in Paris. France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SACEM) awarded Calypso Rose the Grand Prize for World Music on 18 December 2018. A crowning honour came last year when Rose was named Officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters – surely something that even in her most optimistic moments the young girl from Tobago never imagined!

Since debuting her first album at age 23, Calypso Rose has entertained her fans with her extraordinary performances. As the world celebrates International Women’s Day under the theme #ChooseToChallenge we recognise and honour Calypso Rose for her contribution to the entertainment industry – a Caribbean icon who has challenged the male-dominated music industry and overcome challenges for eight decades.

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