Calypso Rose, who during her career has written over 800 songs and recorded 25 albums, has been crowned Calypso Queen multiple times, even winning the title of Calypso “King” in 1978 for her songs “Her Majesty” and “I Thank Thee” (whereupon the National Calypso King Competition changed its name to the National Calypso Monarchy Competition to accommodate her win).
“Her material is often feminist in nature, and the music is much in the style of Antigua's Swallow ... heavy on the cowbell and horn section. It is no exaggeration to say that every album by Rose is worth hearing,” according to Rovi World Music writer Gene Scaramuzzo.
Calypso originated with the African slaves brought to the West Indies, from whom Rose is descended. Forbidden to speak with one another, they maintained a sense of community through song, with their unique musical form teaming up with the islands’ Carnival tradition well before slavery was banished in the West Indies in 1834.
Rose’s early hit, “Fire in Meh Wire,” and one of the international anthems of calypso, has been translated into eight languages. In 1978, she became the first woman to win the title of Calypso Monarch at the annual competition in Trinidad and Tobago. In a world where men dominate, Rose has triumphed, performing over the years with international stars ranging from Miriam Makeba to Tito Puente, Mahalia Jackson, Michael Jackson, Roberta Flack, Bob Marley and more.
She has received more honors and medals than any other living Calypsonian, including the Medal of Honor from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the Lifetime Achievement Award in Chicago, Honorary Citizen of Belize and the key to the city of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
Now a resident of New York City, her new album, Calypso Rose, produced by Maturity Music, Trinidad, and distributed through Harmonia Mundi, France, boasts a hit single (and video), “Israel by Bus,” which has climbed the World Music charts and iTunes (in France).
A documentary film about her, titled
Calypso Rose, The Lioness of the Jungle, from the Franco-Cameroon director Pascale Obolo, premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and will be released next year.
Before the film was shown, Rose and her band performed “Ah Want To Go Back To Africa.”
“You know why I sang that song first?” she asked her audience.
Because “I am a product of a slave that was brought in Tobago. Martha Paul was kidnaped from Guinea and brought to Tobago. She died when I was 6 years old. That’s why I sung that song first.” She went on to reminisce about her great-great-great grandfather Sandy, who fought to free the slaves, and then sang “Israel By Bus,” her new world music hit.
Showtime is 8 p.m.; for tickets and more information, visit SheridanOperaHouse.com or call 970/728-6363 x5. For more information on Calypso Rose, go to calypsorosediva.com, or preview her musical catalogue at trinidadtunes.com.