Calypso's Better Half

Ask 100 calypso musicians what their genre is all about, and you’ll get 100 different answers: politics, religion, science, education, sport, romance. The prevailing attitude in Trinidad seems to be if you can write a story about it, you can write a song about it, which might be why locals refer to calypso as the poor person's newspaper. (Add it to the list of reasons why this music remains relevant.) Champions of the music are also fond of saying its rhythm and poetry makes women turn to jelly, which may be true. But what happens when the women are the ones singing? That’s the question posed by Singing Sandra, Kizzie Ruiz, and Shereen Caesar, who perform tonight in An Evening with the Women of Calypso. Hailing from Trinidad, the women offer an idea of what daily life is like in their homeland in the Caribbean, from a point of view other than that of the traditionally dominant male calypso voice. While Ruiz and Caesar have established themselves as rising stars in the genre, Singing Sandra (aka Sandra Des Vignes Mellington) is the veteran of the group. She’s been performing since the early 1980s and was named the Calypso Queen of the World in 1987. Onstage, she’s a maternal and authoritative figure, giving voice to the female pillars of Caribbean society and other disenfranchised members of the public. Together, with a full band, the performers create a family of calypso’s highest order.
March 24-27, 2011

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