Rose McCartha Linda Sandy Lewis, known internationally as Calypso Rose, became the oldest artist ever to perform at Coachella over the weekend. She's also the first calypso artist to be given a full set at the festival.
Performing on the Gobi stage ahead of her 79th birthday, Rose wowed the young crowd at the California festival with dozens of her hits and joked about her age after falling and continuing to wine with a fan in true West Indian fashion.
Caribbean people ... ent no stopping us boi... our energy is infectious!! Famous Calypso Rose, 84 years old fell down on the stage while performing at #Coachella2019 and pop ah wine while she on de ground!!! pic.twitter.com/3wHFE9HfUQ— Island VIBEZ (@IslandVibezwC) April 13, 2019
The queen of calypso and soca has been a feminist icon for decades, bucking tradition in her home of Tobago by fusing her popular music with messages about domestic violence, harassment, equality and infidelity.
"I had so much opposition in the late '50s and '60s; my father thought calypso was the devil's music. I got called into several meetings with female church groups asking me, why are you singing calypso? Women should not do that!" she told Billboard.
"I told them God gave me the talent to write and sing and I will continue doing it as long as the good Lord gives me breath. Then I walked out."
Rose has written over 800 songs and continues to pump out hits, with her latest album Far from Home going platinum in France in 2017. She's currently based in Queens, New York, but still tours heavily and has received dozens of awards worldwide.
Born in Bethel Village, Tobago, she had to fight to be accepted in the male-dominated island music industry. She has a seemingly endless number of hits, including major records like "Fire In Me Wire," "Do Dem Back," "Gimme More Tempo," and "Come Leh We Jam."
Rose performed on Friday and will be back next weekend for another show. She has already set up a world tour for May and other performances for the rest of the year. She has managed to outlive many of her mentors despite surviving breast cancer, heart surgery and stomach cancer.
She told Billboard: "That's how I know the good Lord still wants me here, because I have a job to do: bring joy, peace and harmony to my fans and to the world."
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