Get local news delivered straight to your phone

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

In the digital age, it’s hard to conceive of music as an information provider on par with, say, a newspaper’s editorial page. But calypso once filled that role: While it reveled in the ribald, it was also a fierce political weapon. Artists like The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Kitchener often battle for the crown of greatest male calypsonian, but there’s no doubt whom the queen is: Calypso Rose, “the Lioness of the Jungle.” This documentary unspools the tale of the nearly 72-year-old Trinidad and Tobago singer, who began composing songs at 15 and won the prestigious Trinidad Road March competition in 1977 and 1978. Around that time she also became the first woman to win the Calypso King competition, which was later renamed Calypso Monarch, thanks to Rose’s victory. She was raped at 18 and was never with a man again, but Rose’s Baptist faith and dedication to music provided enough companionship for her to thrive after the trauma. Her cherubic face, onstage energy, and powerful pipes portray tremendous joy, which Calypso Rose captures ecstatically. And crucially, the movie also traces Rose’s journey back to Africa to reconnect with her roots and the foundations of the music that sustains her.