Rhoma Spencer’s The Life and Music of Calypso Rose

Rhoma Spencer’s The Life and Music of Calypso Rose is now a musical drama

Photo Credit – Sol Essence.

Rhoma Spencer, Writer and Director

The life and musical journey of Calypso Rose is now a new musical drama, written and directed by Toronto’s own Rhoma Spencer. Spencer, who is the 2022-23 Artist-in-Residence at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto, will conclude her residency with Queen of the Road–The Calypso Rose Musical, the new work she developed at the Centre’s Queer and Trans Research Lab over the academic year. 

Born Linda McCartha Monica Sandy Lewis, and now known to the world as Calypso Rose, is the “Calypso Queen Mother of the World.” The 82 year-old, Black, queer Trinidadian vocalist and composer was born in the village of Bethel, Tobago and has well over 800 music compositions under her name. The lone female in the calypso arena for some time, Rose paved the way for other female Calypsonians and broke down many barriers in a mainly patriarchal space.

In 2017, when she won The Victoire de La Musique Award in Paris (known as the French Grammy) for her album Far from Home, it  was a result of the widespread

Stacey Sobers plays Calypso Rose

revival of her music in Europe under the World Music category. Later that year she became the oldest artist ever to headline the Coachella Music Festival in California. “This resurgence in Calypso Rose’s music was the opportune time for me to revisit the idea of the Calypso Rose Musical I promised myself to write,” said Spencer. “After visiting Rose in New York in January 2019, I spent two days at her home interviewing her to write a Jukebox Musical on her life using her Discography,” she further disclosed.

This Satuday, June 17, Spencer will present the work with a one-night-only showcase at Hart House Theatre at the University of Toronto. The workshop presentation will feature Trinidad and Tobago 2018 Calypso Queen Stacey Sobers in the title role of Calypso Rose and members of the Tobago Performing Arts Company brought in specifically to further develop the work with Spencer. Joining the visiting cast are local artists, Calypsonian King Cosmos, Sistah Lois, and Michelle Walker, along with Trinidadian students at the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance at the U of T, Aria Sharma and Vandana Maharaj. Musical Direction is by Toronto’s Calypso Performer and Musician, Roger Gibbs. Admission is free but the public must reserve their tickets on eventbrite.

Show details: Saturday June 17,2023 at Hart House Theatre- 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto. Time: 6pm, admission is free.

For more info contact Elliott Tilleczek at Elliott.tilleczek@mail.utoronto.ca