Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Garfield Blackman, 6 Oct. '41, Trinidad; previously known as Lord Shorty) Soca artist, composer; widely credited as principal architect of soca, defining it as: 'not a combination of soul and calypso, but a combination of East Indian and African rhythms' to create a 'totally Trinidadian sound ... a dougla rhythm', 'the soul of Trinidad, not soul as in American soul, but the soul of calypso' (quotes from '95 interview with Harold Pysadee in cable TV show Culture Share; dougla means of East Indian and African parentage). Raised in Lengua village in South Trinidad, a community largely of East Indian descent. He arranged for steel bands late '50s, began singing calypso '62 with East Indian infl.: songs 'Long Mango' (greeted with derision), 'Sixteen Commandments' '63 (more successful), 'Indian Singers' '66 (better still). Turned to calypso full time '67 (fired from job as a joiner); reached National Calypso Monarch final '68; crowned San Fernando's King of the Calypso World '70. 'Indrani' was a hit '72. He developed a sexual image as 'Shorty -- The Love Man', was charged with indecency for presentation of 'The Art Of Making Love' in Calypso Monarch final '73 (charge was dropped). Early LPs incl. Gone, Gone, Gone, Love Man, Love In The Caribbean. Concerned that reggae would eclipse calypso in popularity, he turned to soca to revitalize it, recorded his first soca song 'Soul Calypso Music' '73 (in Toronto, Canada), incl. in Endless Vibrations '74 on his own Shorty label, co-arranged by Ed Watson, followed by Sweet Music '76, adding Earl Rodney to arrangers. Then he went bankrupt, but came back with Sokah, Soul Of Calypso '77 on Semp, arr. by Shorty and Frankie Callender (spelling 'sokah' reflected East Indian influence). Shocked by Maestro's death, he rejected a self-confessed five- year orgy of the flesh '78, reinterpreted 'love man' to more universal image. Soca Explosion '79 on Charlie's incl. 'Soca Fever', 'Shanti Om' (a Hindu prayer in soca), political commentary 'Money Eh No Problem'. Hits '79 incl. 'Young And Moving On', sung by 14-year-old daughter Abbi Blackman, 'Don't Stop Dancing', by eleven-year-old O. C. Blackman; We Have Love '79 on Soca Productions was family album by Shorty and his Home Circle. 'Plant De Land' and 'Soca Man Scrunt' were 12]im[ single '80; he became a Rastafarian, changed his name, took his children out of school, went bankrupt '81: Ras Shorty I and his Home Circle appeared at Kingdom of the Wizards calypso tent '81, moved to Piparo in a remote part of Trinidad, developed slow soca/reggae/gospel fusion called jamoo (Jehovah's music); returned to public performing '84 with his Love Circle, LP Jamoo -- The Gospel Of Soca on Straker's. Declared in press early in '89 Carnival season that he was praying for O. C. Blackman to return to his spiritual fold in Piparo after O. C. had become a heart-throb by performing the popular Carib beer jingle 'Move On' on TV and radio; during that season Shorty I performed new songs incl. 'Watch Out My Children' (hailed as one of his best) in Calypso Expo tent. Emerged from his Piparo sanctuary '92 to chastise calypsonians in 'Dat Eh Good Enough' for debasing soca by singing only 'jam and wine' (inane party lyrics); the following season Mighty Sparrow responded in picong (trad. art of heckling, teasing, cleverly make fun of) in 'The More The Merrier'. Re-entered Calypso Monarch contest '93, presenting 'Change Yuh Attitude' and 'Kongo Tay' to judges; but was surprised not to make semi-finals: said he was hurt, but accepted it as God's will; failed to make semi-finals again '94. Prod. and arr. album Respect Woman '96 on JMC with the Love Circle incl. song 'Latrine Sisters', an attack on contemporary soca artists and their lyrical content (band Rukshun replied '97 with their 'Ta Ta'); wrote hits 'Sokah Chutney Parang' '96 and 'Spicy And Peppery' '97 for Leon Coldero. Lord Shorty -- The Collection -- Who God Bless '87 on Carotte compiled key tracks.