Sandra Des Vignes was born in 1957 and was bred “behind the bridge” in the East Dry Area in Port of Spain, grew up in Morvant and went to school in Laventille.
She was a product of the “ghetto” and once told this journalist she had “No regrets” as “growing up in the ghetto teaches you something of value. Having to struggle.”
Sandra died overnight at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, after spending the past few weeks there being treated for an unknown illness. She was 64.
In 2015, she spent weeks on the Intensive Care Unit of the Port of Spain General Hospital after undergoing surgery for a hernia.
Sandra was a force to be reckoned with. She won the 1987 National Calypso Queen competition, the 1992 Carifesta Monarch contest, the 1992 Calypso Queen of the World competition in St Maarten, and a host of local awards.
She was even a part of the first all female soca group, the United Sisters, – a powerhouse female collective starring Sandra, Lady B, Tigress, and Marvellous Marva.
They gave us such hits as Ambatalia, Four Women To One Man, and Whoa Donkey, which came close to winning the Road March of 1993.
Sandra won the 1999 Calypso Crown with “Song for Healing” and “Voices from the Ghetto.”
She again won the Calypso Crown in 2003 with “For Whom the Bells Toll?” and “Ancient Rhythms.”
She placed 3rd in the 2005 Calypso Monarch competition with “Clean Heart” and “Judge Me Not.” She placed 2nd in the 2006 Calypso Monarch competition with “Equal Justice” and “Too Much Ashes in the Urn.”
She also made the Calypso Monarch Finals in 2010, 2012, and 2018.
Her other hit calypsoes include:
2000 – Caribbean Man Part Two; True Colours
2001 – Woman, Her Own Worst Enemy; Dignity; Empowerment; Crying In The Ghetto; Make Way, We Coming Through
2002 – Ground Zero; National Pride
2007 – Sudan
2009 – Ghetto of My Mind
2010 – No Child Shall Be Left Behind
2012 – On Turning 50; Why I Sing
2018 – Power in Song