Some of us know Calypso Rose because we are of that age and grew up with her music. Others, though, may not have a clue about this Tobago girl. However, over the past few months Rose has catapulted herself firmly back in to our ears with her contagious and catchy 2016 track Leave Me Alone.
This hard-working 76-year-old was christened Rose McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis. Her sobriquet, Calypso Rose, befits a woman of her talent and stature. She’s Calypso Queen of the World, arguably the most successful and prolific female artiste the Caribbean has ever produced, and one of those rare people you can truly call a legend in their own lifetime. In the early days, she gave us tracks such as Fire In Meh Wire, Give Me More Tempo, Underneath The Mango Tree and No Mister. And that’s just to name a few – her back catalogue and the range of styles it encompasses is remarkable.
Rose transcends music and has had a film depicting her life and times made about her, titled Calypso Rose: Lioness in the Jungle, which showcased at the 64th Cannes Film Festival in 2011. The film was made by two French production companies, Maturity Productions and Dynamo Productions, in co-operation with T&T Film Company.
Jean-Michel Gibert, one of the producers, was full of praise for the iconic calypsonian. Gibert said that after making a film on calypso music seven years ago, filmmakers saw Rose as a character who needed further expansion. Four years later they began work on Calypso Rose: Lioness in the Jungle with French Cameroon director Pascale Obolo. The film follows Rose through different parts of the world as she continues her fight for women’s causes and interacts with fans. Gibert said the documentary was not only about Rose’s life in calypso, but also about her struggles.
In February this year Rose was nominated in the category of World Music Album of the Year in the category Les Victoires de La Musique. This annual award ceremony is the French equivalent of the Brit Awards or the US Grammys, and Rose was victorious. Her album Far From Home, which has almost gone Platinum in France with sales currently at 80,000 plus, had stiff competition in its category from Acid Arab, with Music of France, and Rokia Traore, with Born So.
The 12 tracks on Far From Home – which was released in France, are: Abatina, I Am African, Leave Me Alone featuring Manu Chao, Far From Home, Calypso Queen, Zoom Zoom Zoom, Trouble, Love Me Or Leave Me, No Madame, Woman Smarter, Human Race and Wah Fu Dance!
Rose has been touring extensively in France and a quick look at her Facebook page shows that between 6 April and 20 August she will perform at 28 events. Even in her eighth decade, there is no stopping this Calypso Queen of the World.