It’s Friday: let’s dance! Some of the ladies who fought for gender equality are unknown although they contributed immensely to the status we enjoy nowadays.

McArtha Linda Lewis, known as Calypso Rose, born in 1940, is one of the sunny icons we should look up to for the inspiration she could give to a couple of female generations to come, a role model of assertiveness and positiveness, despite all odds. She is a feminist icon and the oldest artist ever to perform at Coachella. Rose is the oldest artist and the first calypsonian to be booked for a full set at this festival!

Over her decades-long career, she has fought against sexism and the mistreatment of women. Watch her modestly speaking about what she triggered in Trinidad & Tobago and how she could positively influence the slow process of finding her identity as a girl in the Caribbean.

Calypso Rose: Feminist Icon

Rose was just 13 years old when she wrote her first calypso: fighting for justice from the ghetto. “In the market one Sunday morning, we saw a guy run up and snatch the glasses from off the eyes of a vendor. We yelled, ‘Thief! Thief! Thief!’ Well I went home and wrote ‘Glass Thief’ to warn Tobagonian boys not to be like those naughty Trinidadian boys.” It was the first calypso denouncing sexual inequality. Her second song was inspired by the Can Can dance craze: “I sang about the girls who can can!”

But she was writing and singing against the grain. Women were not welcome on stage in the calypso tents of the 1950s. “When I began entertaining at 15,” she says, “They said: ‘Why are you singing calypso? It does not belong to a woman. Calypso belongs to the men.’ Well, I told them the good Lord has given me the inspiration to create and I will not be like the foolish virgin in the Bible. I will not bury my talent in the soil! I will be jiggy jiving! I fought the battle as a woman and I won.”

Without Rose’s contributions, women in calypso would not be able to have some of the musical freedom they have today. Rose has written more than 800 songs and is known for bucking tradition by infusing her music with messages about domestic violence and equality.

Enjoy this beautifully humble queen, Calypso Rose, age 80, singing about not being afraid of showing exactly who you are! 

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