Calypsonian Profile: Calypso Rose

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"Calypso Rose" was born McArtha Lewis on Tobago in 1940. She began writing and performing calypso at 15 years old and for over 50 years was the reigning Queen of Calypso. Because of her victories, in what was a typically male dominated field, the title of the calypso champion was changed from Calypso King to Calypso Monarch. 

Calypso Rose won her first calypso contest in 1977 with her song Tempo. After this song, she continue to win calypso competitions and raised international awareness of calypso as a genre of music. Her defining characteristics are her brilliant lyrics and incredible stage presence. She was considered a musical ambassador for Trinidad and performed with famous performers like Roberta Flack, Bob Marley and Michael Jackson. Calypso Rose also championed women’s rights throughout her career.

Since 1983, Calypso Rose has lived in Jamaica, Queens, but like a true Trini, returns home for Carnival each year. In 1996, she became a breast cancer survivor. Recently, Calypso Rose has relaunched her international career and continues to perform in Britain, as well as the Caribbean. 

Click on some of these links to get an idea of her more famous songs: 

Sources:

Calypso Rose Diva Website

World Music About

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Lord Kitchener and Lord Pretender discuss Soca vs Calypso, and calypsonians vs calypso singers.

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Calypso Blues - Calypso Rose

McArtha Lewis known as Calypso Rose is a  calypsonian, she wrote over 800 songs and she got many awards, like Calypso Queen five years running.  Calypsonian is a musician from the anglophone Caribbean, the calypso music have origins in the West African tradition, and was what the slaves sung.  The music become the voice of people.

Big Bamboo
  • Big Bamboo
  • Lord Creator
  • Trojan Calypso Box Set
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I have spent the evening listening to some Calypso and I have noticed that Calypsonians were quite randy. A number of songs have very funny and witty allusions to sexual intercourse and genitalia.

The one that really stood out to me was ‘Big Bamboo’. The song is unabashedly vulgar, which is surprising because I have always been under the impression that the world (at least western culture) has become less puritanical as with time. So, my surprise comes from how Calypsonians were able to get away with performing songs with lyrics like,

"The big bamboo grows so bold and strong

The big bamboo stands so straight and tall

The big bamboo pleases one and all…….

But what good are nuts without the tree”

Now, don’t get me wrong I have nothing against it. I just wonder how they were able to tour extensively through North America and Europe without being censored? Many calypsonians even settled and developed extensive recording careers abroad. Lord Kitchener is one such performer that comes to mind.

Whatever the case, there is no denying that Trinidadians and to some extent Jamaicans made some great music.

Above is one version of ‘The Big Bamboo’. This version is by Lord Creator (born Kentrick Patrick). There is a longer version out there, performed by Mighty Sparrow (born Slinger Francisco).

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Kitch arrives in London and treats the viewers to an acapella rendition of “London Is the Place For Me.”

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Mighty Sparrow - “New York Blackout”

ianssmoothie said:

I counted all the questions I've asked you and I think I'm turning into a fangirl. Don't worry I'll build you a solid fanbase. should we be named lilians? callisters? lilianators?

Haha, I love the questions!! I like calypsonians or callisters, it’s already kinda thing too haha, yaaay xx

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