Calypso Rose

Calypso Rose or Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis (born April 27, 1940 in Bethel Village, Tobago) is a calypsonian. She started writing songs at the age of 13; over the years, she has composed more than 1000 songs and recorded more than 20 albums.[1][2] Considered the "mother of calypso", Rose was the first female calypso star and her lyrics frequently address social issues like racism and sexism. Her influence over the calypso music genre forced the renaming of the Calypso King competition to the Calypso Monarch instead.[3] In 2012 at Chutney Pride, Calypso Rose revealed that she is a member of the LGBT community and has been married to a woman for 17 years. In addition to writing songs about social issues, Rose is also an activist and was given the title of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for former child soldiers along with performing at numerous events for social change.[3] She has received every award available to living artists in the Caribbean.[4][5]

Calypso Rose
Calypso Rose
Calypso Rose
Background information
Birth nameLinda McArtha Monica Sandy-Lewis (or McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis)
Also known asCrusoe Kid
Born (1940-04-27) April 27, 1940 (age 80)
Bethel Village, Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago
GenresCalypso, Soca
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Years active1964–present
LabelsBecause Music

She currently resides in Queens, New York, and regularly returns to Trinidad and Tobago in addition to touring.[5]

Early lifeEdit

Calypso Rose was born under the name Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis. Her mother gave her this name as an homage a respectable army general by the name of Douglas MacArthur.[6] At the beginning of her music career, the singer originally took the name Crusoe Kid but later changed it to Calypso Rose. This occurred when she auditioned for the managers of a calypso tent called Young Brigade.[7] The name Crusoe Kid was meant to signify her origins in Tobago, and a reference to the novel Robinson Crusoe. After hearing her perform, the managers at Young Brigade renamed her Calypso Rose because a rose is considered the mother of all flowers and she considers herself the mother of female calypsonians that came after her.[7][8][2] She grew up in a small village on the island of Tobago called Bethel, one of the two Caribbean islands forming Trinidad and Tobago and the birthplace of calypso. Rose's earliest memory is her grandmother sitting at the seashore and telling her that no one knows where they would be buried because her grandmother was originally from French Guinea and ended up in Tobago because she was kidnapped and sold there.[9] Calypso Rose was the fourth child to be born by her mother, Dorchea Sandy, who had a total of thirteen children, two of which passed away. Her father, Altino Sandy, was a leader of the Spiritual Shouter Baptists. [6] In addition to being a leader in the church, he was also a fisherman and Rose would to go with him every evening to the beach when she lived with him.[9] To this day, Calypso Rose says she drinks seamoss, and eats a lot of fish, ginger, garlic, and banana to give her the energy to put on a powerful show.[10] Her family was very traditional and were initially opposed to her singing in Carnival tents; her father saying that "calypso belongs to the devil"[11] She lived with her parents and her ten siblings in a two-bedroom house until she was nine-years-old, at which point she went to live with her aunt and uncle on the neighboring island of Trinidad. Her aunt, Edith Robinson, was wanting a child so she suggested to her husband that he go to his brother, Altino Sandy, and ask to take care of one of his children. Ms. Edith Robinson came and asked for Rose's permission to adopt her, Rose agreed and went with her to Trinidad. Shortly after arriving in Trinidad, she began to get bullied because she was a 'small islander' which she didn't expect because she thought Trinidad and Tobago was one place.[6]

One of the many struggles that Rose endured was being raped at the age of 18 and ever since then she has not pursued a relationship with a man.[12] Rose came out in an interview as a lesbian at the age of 72 and was married to woman for 17 years by then.[13] Her health was not always in its best form as she faced and survived breast cancer in 1996, stomach cancer in 1998, diabetes, and two heart attacks which was solved by a pacemaker.[14]


When she went to live with her uncle and aunt, her aunt was a big influence on her love of calypsos because of the many records that she owned and the freedom she would give her. Rose then began to write her first calypso called "Glass Thief" which signified her shock to Trinidad after her aunt gave her money and told her to go to the market where she saw boys stealing eyeglasses from someone's face. This was the start of her voicing her opinion on gender equality and later on writing her second calypso that empowered women to dance. Calypso Rose began singing at calypso tents in the 1950s at the age of 15 going against her harsh critics, and had the opportunity to perform in different places from Grenada, St. Vincent to the US Virgin Islands .[3][15] A large influencer and supporter of Rose was a man named Lord Kitchener who was the first to recognize her as a composer . From 1963 to 1965, she would continue to perform in his tent. She knew Lord Kitchener from the age of 9 and he was known for his influence on many young calypso singers because of the songs he would make.[16] Even with many of the religious elders in Trinidad's disapproval for Rose's participation in calypsos, she was able to win them over with her song "Abide With Me" which is about hurricane Florence that hit Tobago and Grenada in 1964.[17] In 1966 she would perform with a very well known calypsonian in many occasions by the name of the 'Mighty Sparrow' (Slinger Francisco). Despite many people's misconceptions, Rose was not the first female calypso singer. However, with her song "Cooperation", she was able to compete outside of Tobago and Trinidad against other male calypsonians and win her first title as Calypso King in the Virgin Islands and win Virgin Island's Road March in the same year. In 1966, she wrote the song "Fire in Meh Wire" that had gone international and was translated into eight different languages, and was the first calypso to run two years in a row at the Trinidad Carnival.[18] With the making of another song called "Tempo", Rose was able to become the first female to win the national Road March title. Soon after, in 1978, she performed "Her Majesty" and "I Thank Thee" and was able to win another national Road March and became the first to win Calypso King which changed to Calypso Monarch because of the successful integration of females in a male-dominated competition.[6] In 2016 she released a song titled "Calypso Queen" in which she confirms her reign. In 1979 Calypso Rose performed in a concert put on by the Colombia's Caribbean Students' Association and was later reviewed by Robert Palmer (writer) from the New York Times. Palmer tells how powerful she was as a performer including a quote by the master of ceremonies for the evening; "people who will not trust politicians will listen to the common sense commentary of a celebrated calypso singer and song-writer like Calypso Rose". [19]

With Rose's success she was able to work alongside many artists. In 1967, Rose and Bob Marley performed together in the Grand Ballroom in New York City and later they got to perform together once again in Miami. Rose's relationship with Marley was very close that she named him her inspiration.[20] Other music legends that she got to meet are Michael Jackson and Miriam Makeba in 1978 when she won Trinidad Road March.[21] Her album "Far From Home" led her to collaborate with French/Spanish singer Manu Chao who sang three songs from her album 'Leave Me Alone", "Far From Home", and "Human Race". The album was produced by Ivan Duran.[22] The two were first introduced when her manager, Mr. Jean Micheal invited Chao to the Carnival season in 2015 where Calypso Rose recounted that they spoke for 3 hours about music. She gave him an early copy of the album which he later mixed and added in his own vocals.[10] Calypso Rose has continued to collaborate with other artists. One of her recent collaborations was with Machel Montano in a song called "Young Boy". Another one would be with Kobo Town in a song called "Scarborough Girl" in 2018 with home she performed with in 2019, and helped co-write some of her songs from her album "Far From Home".[23] Calypso Rose is still actively writing new music, even telling a reporter that she carries around a tape recorder with her to keep track of her ideas.[10] In October 2019, she released a song titled "Baila Mami" from the new Calypso Rose & Friends EP featuring Nailah Blackman, Lao Ra, Manu Chao, Machel Montano, Patrice, Tim Armstrong & The Interrupters and King Doudou. The song is a mix of Spanish and English encouraging women to break free and dance.[24]

Calypso Rose's music is known for her political and social justice narrative in her music. This influenced a law that was in place in the Caribbean like the exploitation of civil servants in terms of how they were being paid. Her song "No Madam" caused the government of Trinidad and Tobago to insert minimum wage for civil servants.[21] There were other songs like "The Boat is Rocking" which signified a time in which there was a critical local election occurring. Her album "Far From Home" exemplifies the narrative of social and political injustice like her song "I Am African" which is about the black diaspora.

In an interview, Rose said that her two proudest moments of her life was when she was named Calypso Monarch and when she won the French Grammy award, Victoire de la Musique, in Paris in 2017 because of her album "Far From Home".[21]

Alongside her career in music Calypso Rose was a part of many documentaries including "Calypso at Dirty Jim's", and "Calypso Rose, Lioness in the Jungle". "Calypso at Dirty Jim's" was directed by Pascale Obolo and was produced in 2005 which discusses many Caribbean artists like Mighty Sparrow, Mighty Terror, Bomber, Lord Superior, and Calypso Rose.[17] "Calypso Rose, Lioness in the Jungle" was produced in 2011 which was also made by Pascale Obolo, and it follows Rose's life as a prominent voice and ambassador of Caribbean music.[25]

In 2019, Rose performed at Coachella, marking the first time a calypso performer played a full set at the festival. At 78, she became the festival's oldest performer to date.[26]


  • 1969 : Queen Of The Calypso World
  • 1970 : Calypso Queen Of The World
  • 1972 : Sexy Hot Pants
  • 1977 : Her Majesty Calypso Rose
  • 1977 : Action is Tight
  • 1978 : Mass Fever
  • 1979 : We Rocking For Carnival
  • 1980 : Ah Cant Wait
  • 1981 : Mass in California
  • 1983 : Rose Goes Soca Unlimited
  • 1984 : Trouble
  • 1985 : Pan in Town
  • 1986 : Stepping Out
  • 1987 : On Top Of The World
  • 1987 : Leh We Punta
  • 1989 : Soca Explosion
  • 1990 : Soul On Fire
  • 1992 : Rosie Doh Hurt Dem
  • 1993 : Breaking The Sound Barrier
  • 1993 : Soca Diva
  • 2008 : Calypso Rose (World Village)
  • 2016 : Far from Home (Because Music)
  • 2018 : So Calypso! (Because Music)

Awards and honoursEdit

  • 1978: Award for Unprecedented Achievement by a Calypsonian from the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance of the USA[27][28]
  • 1978: Distinguished Achievement Award for the First Triple Crown Calypso Monarch of the World by The Tobago Benevolent Society[28]
  • 1979: Award for Magnanimous Contribution to the Culture by the Caribbean Arts and Culture Council[28]
  • 1982: Rose was named an honorary citizen of Belize in 1982 in recognition of her work to raise the country's international awareness on the cultural front
  • 1983: Top Female Calypsonian by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.[27][28]
  • 1985: Best Female Recording Artist Award by C.E.I.[27][28]
  • 1986: Recognition for Achievement in Human Progress from the Concerned Citizens of Liberia Organization[28]
  • 1988: Gratitude and Commendation for the Development of Arts and Culture in Belize by the National Arts Council of Belize[28]
  • 1988: Appointment as Foremost Ambassador of Culture by the West Indian Day Association[28]
  • 1989: Humanitarian Award by Sunshine Music Awards[28]
  • 1989: Recognition for contribution to the steelpan by the Calypso and Steelband Music Awards[28]
  • 1989: Best Party Song by the Sunshine Music Awards[28]
  • 1989: Best Female Vocalist by the Sunshine Music Awards[28]
  • 1990: Nafeita Lifetime Achievement Award[28]
  • 1991: Outstanding Female in the Field of Music Award by the National Woman's Action Committee[27][28]
  • 1991: Most Outstanding Woman in Trinidad and Tobago by the National Women's Action Committee[27][28]
  • 1993: Inducted into the Tobago Walk of Fame as a charter member[27][28]
  • 1993: Honored by the mayor of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, with the keys to the City[29]
  • 2011: Africa Festival Lifetime Achievement Award[30]
  • 2014: Honorary Doctor of Letters - University of the West Indies
  • 2016: WOMEX Artist of the Year Award[31]
  • 2017: Calypso Rose's Far From Home won the World Music Album of the Year contest at the 32nd annual French music award ceremony, Les Victoires de la Musique[32][33]
  • 2017: The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the highest honor in the country[4][34]


  • 1979 - Bacchanal Time
  • 1991 - One Hand Don't Clap
  • 2011 - Calypso Rose: the Lioness of the Jungle


  1. ^ "caribbean-contact-vol14-no11-apr-1987". doi:10.1163/2210-7975_hrd-0172-0088. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b Culshaw, Peter (2016-07-21). "Calypso Rose: 'I'm fighting for everyone, regardless of sex'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  3. ^ a b c "UWI Today". Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  4. ^ a b "78-Year-Old Caribbean Trailblazer Calypso Rose on Her History-Making Coachella Gig". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  5. ^ a b Mendez Mendez, Serafín. (2003). Notable Caribbeans and Caribbean Americans : a biographical dictionary. Cueto, Gail. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313314438. OCLC 46959797.
  6. ^ a b c d "Notes", Erotic Islands<subtitle>Art and Activism in the Queer Caribbean</subtitle>, Duke University Press, 2018, doi:10.1215/9780822372622-009, ISBN 9780822372622
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  8. ^ Mahabir, Cynthia (October 2001). "The rise of calypso feminism: gender and musical politics in the calypso". Popular Music. 20 (3): 409–430. doi:10.1017/s0261143001001581. ISSN 0261-1430.
  9. ^ a b Griffiths, Sian. "Calypso Rose". Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  10. ^ a b c "Calypso Rose Is The 77-Year-Old Patron Saint Of Women Who Love To Fete". The FADER. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  11. ^ Introducing Calypso Rose, Queen of Calypso for 40 years !, retrieved 2019-10-16
  12. ^ Obolo, Pascale, screenwriter, director. Gibert, Jean-Michel, producer. Planelle, Thierry, producer. Djivas, Philippe, producer. Calypso Rose, performer. Verdel, Sylvain, cinematographer., Calypso Rose : the lioness of the jungle, OCLC 809168888CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Saxberg, Lynn (2018-01-18). "Calypso Rose: Blazing a trail for women in music". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2019-10-12.
  15. ^ "Calypso Rose interview: 'I am here to tell women, don't be afraid'". The Independent. 2019-07-25. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  16. ^ Rose, Calypso. "Grand Master Kitch: Calypso Rose Reflects on Lord Kitchener". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ a b "The Calypso Queen | World Music". Retrieved 2019-10-12.
  18. ^ "Calypso Rose sets Symphony Space ablaze with 'Fire in Meh Wire" Check |url= value (help). New York Amsterdam News.
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  21. ^ a b c McLaren, Aleisha. "Calypso Rose: The Queen Of Calypso Isn't Slowing Down". scenestr - Pop Culture & Entertainment. Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  22. ^ "Calypso Rose - Paradigm Talent Agency". Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  23. ^ "Calypso Rose and Kobo Town - World Music Institute". Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  24. ^ Calypso Rose feat. Nailah Blackman & Lao Ra - Baila Mami (Lyric Video), retrieved 2019-11-18
  25. ^ "ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the USA2014 134 ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the USA Ann Arbor, MI ProQuest 2013-". Reference Reviews. 28 (4): 22–24. 2014-05-13. doi:10.1108/rr-11-2013-0288. ISSN 0950-4125.
  26. ^ Trammell, Kendall. "A 78-year-old just became Coachella's oldest performer". CNN. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  27. ^ a b c d e f Thompson, David (2001). Reggae and Caribbean Music: Third Ear: The Essential Listening Companion. Milwaukee (WI): Backbeatbooks. ISBN 978-0879306557.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Profile,; retrieved November 8, 2014 (
  29. ^ Persad, Seeta (July 22, 2009). "Documentary on Calypso Rose to be released". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  30. ^ Calypso Rose gets Lifetime Achievement Award in Germany Archived 2012-01-23 at the Wayback Machine, (in German); retrieved January 20, 2012.
  31. ^ "WOMEX Awards". WOMEX: The World Music Expo. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  32. ^ "Devinez l'âge de l'artiste qui a enflammé les Victoires 2017". Le Huffington Post (in French). 2017-02-10. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
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  34. ^ "Another international award for Calypso Rose". Retrieved 2019-07-14.

External linksEdit