Last year Beyonce was named the first African-American female to headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California, boasting sold-out crowds of more than 70,000 it is arguably the biggest music festival in America.
This year, another first registered in the music discography when Tobago’s own Calypso Rose was inscribed as the oldest performer to ever challenge the great west coast stage.
At age 78, she took to the stage two weekends in a row and in her inimitable style, gyrated to the sounds of her twin-island calypso and soca beats to win approval from a diverse crowd of mostly-millennial music fans — many of whom admittedly conceded they had never heard of the Caribbean queen but will now add her to their playlist.
Reportedly social media found her “adorable.”
Patrons to the pop fest described her as a “treasure.”
And after two weekend appearances, the overwhelming consensus is that the veteran Trinbagonian might be a brand, new discovery and even an “overnight success.”
Not so, Calypso Rose has been singing from age 15. She has composed more than 800 songs and has fiercely broadened her repertoire singing gospel, and other genres of music.
As a matter of fact Caribbean music lovers have known the endearing singer for decades.
“Now I am the queen of Coachella and the queen is from Trinidad and Tobago,” she declared to her newly-conquered kingdom.
Crowned by an intergenerational mostly millennial crowd for her stellar performance of “Tempo,” “Leave Me Alone,” “Fire, Fire,” “Abatina” and was joined onstage by Nailah Blackman and Machel Montano.
Her sounds and actions along with a legacy that began 60 years ago now dubs Linda McArtha Sandy-Lewis AKA Calypso Rose — the oldest performer to grace the California Coachella stage.
Delivering two weekends of alternative music the singer — who will celebrate her 78th birthday next week — April 27 — managed to accrue more than 460,000 posts on social media and even won notice from television’s TMZ, a one-hour entertainment /information program that highlights cutting-edge features and concerts.
Streamed live on YouTube performances on two consecutive weekends featured the queen of calypso in front of SRO audiences holding up cell phones to capture the acclaimed artist who has been reigning calypso and soca to generations of music lovers.
Twenty-years since the first staging in 1999, Rose shattered the mystique of billing older talents to more than 70,000 when she added Caribbean music to a roster of popular strains.
On the first, Friday performance Rose maneuvered a waist-winding dance move that seemed to captivate the audience. At a juncture she fell to the floor but never missed a beat singing and dance from the floor.
Smiling through her mis-step she was lifted by young men as she lyricized “I want a young Boy” a song which features Trinidad’s Machel Montano.
“The young boy throw me down!” Rose joked as she gripped her microphone, rebounded standing firm on her feet while continuing to deliver to an exuberant crowd that cheered her stamina, determination and entertaining showcase.
“I am honored to perform at Coachella,” she told TMZ TV afterwards.
Interviewed by Harvey Levin, the host of the celebrity television daily, she explained that credit for her appearance was due to booking agents in Paris, France who urged her to perform alongside a stellar lineup which included Ariana Grande, Janelle Monae, Childish Gambino, N’SYNC, and others.
With a tour schedule booked through November, Rose added that she was recently informed by her French representatives that in the fall she is booked for appearances in Japan.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Tourism, Randall Mitchell acknowledged the international attention his country has gotten since Rose’s appearance at Coachella and immediately issued a press release saying: “Every time Calypso Rose appears on a stage abroad she promotes our islands and more people will want to visit our country to experience more of our unique tourism offerings.”
He added: ”It is with a deep sense of appreciation that we congratulate Calypso Rose for continuing to promote T&T’s culture on the international stage and we salute her.
She continues to be one of our most prolific international cultural ambassadors on every stage.”
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