CARISA LEE & BOBIE-LEE DIXON contributed to this report.
The calypso fraternity was plunged into mourning today with news of the passing of Sandra Des Vignes-Millington, known and loved for her hard-hitting social commentaries and being two-time Calypso Monarch, Singing Sandra.
The announcement concerning the 64-year-old artiste’s passing was made on her official Facebook page at about 7 am.
“This is not a hoax. More information will be disseminated in due course. Condolences to the love ones of Queen Singing Sandra. ‘Dear loyal fans and supporters worldwide. It is with deep rregret that you be informed of the passing of National Icon San Des Vignes, The Singing Sandra, who passed away last night. More information will be sent when made available’,” the statement read.
Tributes have begun pouring in for the former Calypso Monarch from leading lights in the local entertainment industry.
Fay-Ann Lyons described Singing Sandra as “the embodiment of a powerful female Artiste” who always had a message in her music, and “Queen Mother of Calypso”.
Bunji Garlin sent out condolences to those loved ones whom Sandra has left behind with her passing on and acknowledged her loving mentorship.
“She never feared coming to all those youth events of all sorts and shining bright as an example that talent trumps gaps of any type. We were blessed to have such an icon belonging to T&T,” Bunji said.
Leston Paul lamented Sandra’s loss, noting that it is a great loss to the calypso industry.
Nicky Crosby noted on her Instagram feed that she, too, like Bunji Garlin, benefitted from Singing Sandra’s mentorship.
“Heartbroken this morning. Our beloved Singing Sandra has transitioned this morning. Can’t believe it. A woman who held my hand in the earlies of my career. And continued holding it. She was mother, sister, friend to many. Rest well, my friend. You did well…”
The last post the cultural icon made on her personal Facebook page was on January 4th, 2020, a musical gift she left this country, titled ONE DAY WITHOUT A MURDER, available here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzesrtYniHc
On her personal Instagram feed, Singing Sandra’s message to the world is a simple one:
“I live each day as my last… very God-fearing… do good and good will follow you…”
About Singing Sandra
Born in 1957 in East Dry River, and raised in Morvant, her singing talent was evident from an early stage, given that her grandmother was the best singer in her village in Tobago. From an early age, she sang and acted as a child, and performed various small productions named ‘Best Village’ productions.
In her mid-20s, she was approached in 1984 by calypsonian Dr Zhivago to perform two of his songs, and the following year was recruited to Mighty Sparrow’s Youth Brigade tent for Carnival 1985. Her exceptional talent and persistence in hard work and in music resulted in her winning the National Calypso Queen in 1987.
From that moment and after, her career accelerated at an exponential rate. She went on to win the Carifesta Monarch and Calypso Queen of the World titles in 1992. She also performed at the Reggae Sunsplash festival of that year.
Later, although she formed the group United Sisters along with Lady B, Tigress, and Marvellous Marva, she continued to perform as a solo artist and consequently won the ‘Best Nation Building Song’ award, along with a $5,000 prize, at the 1997 carnival for the song “One Destiny One Heart”.
In 1999, Singing Sandra became the second woman to ever win the Calypso Monarch competition after Calypso Rose’s win in 1978. The two songs that put her in first place were titled “Song for Healing” and “Voices from the Ghetto”, songs that speak on poverty and racism.
Again in 2003, Singing Sandra made history once more to become the only female Calypso artist to ever win the Calypso Monarch title twice, with “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Ancient Rhythm”, winning a Honda Civic car and a $70,000 cash prize. This repeat win marked her legacy within Calypso music and also helped to again bring attention to the importance of female voices within a very male dominated competition and genre.