Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 29th 2014 Contents A12
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, December 29, 2014
Dr McArtha Lewis, Calypso Rose has won countless fans and over 23 awards,
over the years, for her catchy songs.
NEW YORK---Though she was
barely able to walk because of
gout, Calypso Rose was still able
to woo her audience, as Brooklyn
paid tribute to the Tobago-born
singer who "broke the glass ceil-
ing" in the calypso genre.
"This woman, sometimes I sit
and wonder what got that woman
to sing calypso in the 1950s and
survive," said popular Grenadi-
an-born radio personality Harold
Pysadee, one of the Master of
Ceremonies at the grand tribute
in honour of Calypso Rose, 74,
renowned as the Calypso Queen
of the World.
"Every woman you see singing
calypso today is because of Calyp-
so Rose," added Pysadee at the
event organised by the Brooklyn-
based Dee Vee International Pro-
ductions, headed by the Grena-
dian-born entertainment producer
"Calypso Rose has set the
pace," said Pysadee making ref-
erence to Rose s attainment of an
honorary doctorate from the Uni-
versity of the West Indies (UWI).
"(Calypso) Rose is a Caribbean
Lady first of all.
Bronx-based Gus White, a for-
mer announcer with the now
defunct Montserrat-based Radio
Antilles, said he was "honoured
to be part of this function" that
honoured Calypso Rose.
"Dr McArtha Lewis, Calypso
Rose, for what you have done,
I m truly grateful," he said, while
T&T born radio announcer, Dave
Elcock, also gave his "heartfelt
congratulations to our beloved
McArtha Lewis, the indomitable
Elcok said Calypso Rose has
won "countless" fans and over 23
awards, over the years, for her
catchy songs, including the ever-
green, signature Fire, Fire.
Elcock, who sat next to Rose,
during the near three-hour-long
event, noted that she was the first
female to win the T&T Road
March Competition. "This is the
spirit that we lionize today," he
Noting that the Caribbean
community, the single largest
population of Caribbean people
outside of the islands, is "critical
to every sector of our city s life",
New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio
said the tribute was "a wonderful
opportunity to celebrate one of
its most creative and trailblasing
"By sharing the transcendent
spirit, rich sounds and contagious
rhythms of Trinidad and Tobago,
Calypso Rose has given the world
a great gift," said deBlasio in his
message. "I applaud her extraor-
dinary talent and distinguished
legacy, which enriches lives
throughout the five boroughs and
"On behalf of the City of New
York, Chirlane (his wife) and I
offer our congratulations to
Calypso Rose for receiving an
honorary doctorate from the Uni-
versity of the West Indies, and
extend our best wishes for a joyful
celebration and continued success
uniting the world through song,"
the Mayor added.
The Rev Dennis Dillon, the
Jamaican-born pastor and founder
of the Brooklyn Christian Centre,
said he was "grateful" for Calypso
Rose s leadership, her inspirational
spirit and for doing what few peo-
ple have done.
"Many people at the Christian
Centre they dance to your music
all the time," he said, telling the
singer "we salute you for your
inspiration to all of us.
"I m not saying that we should-
n t say Calypso Rose, but its Dr
McArtha Lewis you all," added
Rev Dillon, alluding to the recent
honorary doctorate recently con-
ferred on Calypso Rose by UWI.
Among others paying tribute
in songs, speeches, dances, instru-
ments and poems included the
The Brooklyn-based Ujamma Pan
Sounds; Carriacou, Grenadian-
born calypsonian Blackman, lead
singer of the Brooklyn-based
band, Lambert & the Matadors;
former Grenadian calypsonian-
turned-gospel singer Janice
Charles; Vincentian Collin Con-
nell; Grenadian calypsonian Lady
Samo; Calypso Rose s grand-
daughter Arianna Butler (dance);
Ziad Garraway (poetry); and Jude
Phillip and Joe Allert (trumpeter
and saxophonist, respectively).
"Last week, I couldn t walk.
Thank God for bush medicine,"
said Calypso Rose before belching
out hits from her diverse reper-
toire, as well as contemporary
gospel and Christmas songs,
referring to the medicine that
helped her recover from a bout
"Thank God for giving me the
inspiration for writing my songs,"
Rose then rocked the house
with some of her tunes, including
Jesus is My Rock, You Must Call,
Coming up the Mountain, Senior
Citizen Day, Fire, Fire and O
She brought down the house
with a medley of religious songs
including What a Friend We Have
in Jesus, Jesus Meek and Gentle,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arm
and Anchor Hold, among others.
Born in Bethel, a small village
in Tobago, Rose began singing at
15, and while she had garnered a
number of regional hits through-
out the years, including her most
famous, Fire, Fire, in 1966, she
did not win any of the major
calypso contests until 1977.
That year, she was the first
woman ever to win the T&T Road
March Competition with the tune
A year later, she won the
National Calypso King Compe-
tition, -later re-named National
Calypso Monarch Competition-
with her tunes I Thank Thee and
That same year, Rose won the
Road March Competition for the
second year successive year, with
Gimme More Tempo.
Calypso Rose has headlined at
major venues and festivals
throughout the United States,
Europe and Australia.
As of 2011, she is the most dec-
orated calypsonian in T&T s his-
tory, and was awarded the Gold
Humming Bird Medal, an award
given t"for loyal and devoted serv-
ice beneficial to the state in any
field, or acts of gallantry".
Though Calypso Rose moved
to Jamaica Queens, New York in
1983, she returns to T&T for car-
In 1996, she battled and beat
breast cancer. She continues to
tour regularly on multiple conti-
nents, and records music.
Last Sunday, she told patrons
she has been booked for perform-
ances in Canada and will tour
France and England in March.
To date, Calypso Rose said she
has written "well over 800 songs".
In 2011, a feature-length doc-
umentary, entitled Calypso Rose:
The Lioness of the Jungle, was
released at Cannes Film Festival
Directed by Pascale Obolo, the
documentary tells Calypso Rose s
story through interviews and live
concert footage, among others.
"I saw the event as a celebra-
tion, not just for her achievement
from the University of the West
Indies but for recognising her role
in exposing this unique Caribbean
culture throughout the world,"
Ventour told the Caribbean Media
Corporation (CMC) about the
Tribute to Calypso Rose.
"She led the way for women
to get involved in the art form,
and we need to recognise her for
all her efforts. So the tribute was
all about celebrating her contri-
bution to the growth of Caribbean
Music," he added. (CMC)
honoured in New York
On behalf of the City of New York, Chirlane (his wife) and I offer our congratulations to
Calypso Rose for receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies, and
extend our best wishes for a joyful celebration and continued success uniting the world
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