(Updated) Calysonians pay tribute as Singing Francine dies at 79

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Francine “Singing Francine” Edwards photographed in February 2020 at the Sangre Grande Community Centre. – Mark Lyndersay

Slinger “Mighty Sparrow” Francisco described the late Francine “Singing Francine” Edwards as a very talented calypsonian, saying that she was loved by everyone.

He spoke to media as news of the veteran calypsonian’s passing spread.

Edwards died early on Friday, a release from the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) said. She was 79 and would have been 80 next February. She was born on February 13, 1943. She died at her home in Queens, New York, of heart failure, former Calypso Monarch Duane O’Connor said. On Friday, Sparrow said, “Everyone loved her. What I could remember is she was always a lot of fun in addition to her performances and so.

“She was always joyful.”

He said he was stunned to hear of her passing and that he had not heard from her in a while.

She performed with Sparrow as a back-up vocalist for about four to five years, he said.

Other calypsonians also shared about their experiences with Singing Francine.

Linda “Calypso Rose” McCartha Sandy-Lewis said she heard the news this morning and was so surprised.

“Singing Francine was a wonderful performer and she was a wonderful calypsonian.”

Calypso Rose said Edwards was a soul singer at first.

She added that Edwards was a dynamic performer in the calypso tent.

“She has done wonderful things for everyone throughout the universe with her songs, talent and ability. May God bless her,” she said.

O’Connor said Edwards was a giant in calypso.

“Her voice it rang like a bell.”

Singing Francine in the 1980s.

He said he was going to be dedicating the entire 2023 Carnival period to Edwards at his business place, Monarchs on D Avenue. He added that at his calypso tent next year, Monarchs Carnival Experience 2023, the first song every night will be one of hers.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell sent condolences to Edwards’s family and friends in a release. He also said TT would continue to be grateful for the joy she brought, especially during the Christmas season. Mitchell said the ministry would continue to honour and preserve her legacy.

Edwards was well known for her groundbreaking song Runaway, which encouraged women to leave situations of domestic abuse, and her popular Christmas hits such as Hooray, Hurrah, Christmas Is Love, Ay Ay Maria and Caribbean Christmas.

The ministry’s release said, “Over the years, Singing Francine has released a number of Christmas hits, earning her the reputation as one of the best parranderos in Trinidad.

“Over the course of her career, she has become an important figure in the development of not only calypso, but also parang.”

It added that Edwards came to Trinidad and Tobago from Barbados at a young age and was born into calypso.

It said throughout her career, Singing Francine used her musical talent to address social issues especially those affecting women.

“In 1975, she sang A Call to Women encouraging more women to use calypso music as a vehicle of self-expression. In her 1978 calypso Runaway, she addressed the topic of domestic violence, urging women in abusive living situations to seek help,” the release said.

She won the National Calypso Queen competition in 1972-73, 1981 and 1983, which made her one of the most successful calypsonians.