It’s now a name long forgotten, but before Maya Angelou chose the pen name inspired by her brother (who called her Maya), she sang, danced and composed lyrics as Miss Calypso. Angelou’s days off-Broadway in “Calypso Heatwave” gave her the moniker, which she used on her first and only album in 1957, titled “Miss Calypso.”
The 29-year-old sang and starred in Columbia Picture’s “Calypso Heat Wave,” also in 1957. The film was a take on the calypso style that blossomed in pop music in late 1950s to early 1960s. Angelou is introduced as the cast visits Trinidad, wandering through a city square filled with peddlers and tourists, singing a song she wrote called “All That Happens in the Market Place.”
Though she does not appear until the 60-minute mark, Turner Classic Movies says her presence “with her deep, experienced voice, it is nevertheless the most genuine musical moment in the film.”
Watch some of her early work below.