On Sunday, March 26th, the legendary Calypso Rose graces the Penthouse with her presence. Trindad and Tobago's Calypso Queen, who now lives in Queens, NY, helped introduce calypso music to the world decades ago, and her 2016 album Far From Home has her back in action. Annie O caught up with the queen herself to talk about her super popular collaboration with Manu Chao, her passion for social justice, and how she's now the Queen of Paris.
Annie O Presents: Calypso Soundsystem featuring Calypso Rose
Sunday, March 26, 7-9pm
The Standard, East Village Penthouse
Free with an RSVP to AnnieO@StandardHotels.com
Your latest album, Far From Home, just received a Victoire de la Musique (French Grammy). How did that make you feel?
I was overwhelmed with joy and emotion! Just imagine: I was the first Caribbean artist to ever received this award ! But I was able to compose myself and went on stage to perform "Abatina" and "Leave Me Alone." The crowd stood up and the presenter had no choice but to request an encore, which is highly unusual for this award ceremony! It was a beautiful memory.
How did your collaboration with Manu Chao come about?
I was in Trinidad for the 2015 Carnival and one day my manager, Jean Michel, brought me this easygoing guy with short pants and sandals. He was carrying a small guitar and we started jamming in my room...for 3 hours! He was really humble, down-to-earth, and a great musician. I want to marry him!
He is featured in a few of my tracks and does additional production for all the tracks of the album originally produced by Ivan Duran.
On "Leave Me Alone," he is there along with Trinidadian soca star Machel Montano. The remix with Machel was a big hit at Carnival 2017 and a women's group has taken the track as an anthem for their campaign to protest violence against women.
You are known as a fighter of many causes. Can you tell us more about the issues close to your heart?
I've fought all my life. Being a woman in calypso was not easy, and calypso at that time was seen as the tool of the devil. By my own father! I always fight for what I find is not right. For instance, my song "No Madam" was written to show the world the terrible life of the house servant at the time. After an Italian journalist wrote about the song in her paper, the cabinet of the government of Trinidad and Tobago passed a law to bring a minimum wage to any workers, including house workers.
You were born in Tobago. When did you start performing as Calypso Rose?
My first stage name was Crusoe Kid. I started to sing at 15 when I was sent from my family in Tobago to my aunt in Trinidad. There I came in contact with calypso artists such as Young Brigade. After the late Eric Williams saw me singing in a reception, he gave me the name Calypso Rose, as he felt that I would bloom like a rose, which is the mother of all flowers.
Where do you live now and what kind of music do you like to listen to?
I live in Jamaica, Queens, but for most of my life I'm on the road! I will be in France for two months, then over to South America for two weeks, before heading back to France at the end of August for shows all over Europe, Morocco, and Tunisia. I listen to all genres of music, but I like my calypso and my gospel.
Your label, Because Music, will release your new album on June 9th, and we hear you are the Queen of Paris now! is that true?
Yes, after my album Far From Home was released in France, it became a gold record in a few months and will soon be platinum (we sold 90,000 copies). Now we want the Americas to enjoy and embrace it, so we'll be releasing it in June in the USA, Canada, and South America. Since the award and the speech for the ceremony, I am now the Queen of France!
What can we expect from the performance of Calypso Soundsystem on March 26th at The Standard, East Village?
I'm very happy to be back in my city of New York. It will be the first time that New Yorkers will be able to see me live with all my new songs of my new album. So you can expect to wine and jam with me at The Standard!