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HomeDaily Dose of HistoryDAILY DOSE OF HISTORY: Ras Shorty I - Musician

DAILY DOSE OF HISTORY: Ras Shorty I – Musician

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Ras Shorty I was born Garfield Blackman on October 6, 1941, in Trinidad. Blackman lived in the community of Lengua where the descendants of indentured servants from India lived. He was exposed to their music, as well as calypso, music which laid the foundation for his musical style. Blackman began developing his musical style and performing at the age of seven.

Lord Shorty

It was traditional for calypsonian musicians to adopt nicknames. As Blackman grew older, he took on the nickname Lord Shorty. His nickname served as a comedic contradiction to his six-foot-four-inch stature.

Early Career

Shorty learned about the music industry while working for steel pan bands. He began recording his own music in the 1960s, achieving moderate success with songs like ‘Long Mango’ (1962) until 1963. In 1963, he released his first hit ‘Cloak and Dagger,’ which was greatly successful. Having to maintain a living, however, he continued to work as a carpenter.
After getting fired from his carpentry job in 1967, Shorty decided to pursue music full time. Shorty then entered Trinidad’s annual calypso competition in 1970. During this time, in Trinidad, the annual calypso competition was an artist’s direct path to fame and fortune. Shorty won a regional contest but lost in the national finals. However, his determination persisted.

“Saga Boy”

Although he lost the national finals, Shorty gained notoriety. As his career began taking off, Trinidadians were soon calling him “Saga Boy” or “the Love Man.” He had become a sex symbol, living what Shorty called “an orgy of the flesh.” His promiscuity resulted in him having 14 children by several women.
Ras Shorty I, Soca, Black music, Black History, Black History 365, DDH: Daily Dose of History


In the early 1970s, Shorty introduced the music of Trinidad’s Indian population to calypso music. He used Indian instruments in his hit song ‘Indrani’ and had created a new style of music that no one had ever heard before.
In 1973, he released another hit, titled ‘Soul Calypso Music.’ It was believed that the first two letters of the words soul and calypso formed the title of Shorty’s new genre, soca. Shorty explained, however, that the “so” derived from calypso, and “ca” derived from the Indian instruments that he used.

Ras Shorty I

Shorty soon grew disillusioned by his hypersexual lifestyle and decided to convert to the Rastafarian faith. He grew dreadlocks, began wearing togas, and went by the new name of Ras Shorty I. He also began criticising soca music’s hypersexuality. Younger Trinidadians ignored his criticism but his loyal fans continued to support his new music.


In 1984, Shorty released ‘Jamoo: The Gospel of Soca,’ which was a combination of reggae and Black gospel music from America. He then released a series of ‘Jamoo’ albums. While preparing for the release of his albums, Shorty broke his hand.
His hand would not heal and it was determined that he had developed bone cancer in his hand. Ras Shorty I opted to try herbal remedies but eventually died on July 12, 2000, in Port of Spain. He was 59 years old.
Ras Shorty I, Soca, Black music, Black History, Black History 365, DDH: Daily Dose of History
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer or We Buy Black. Thank you.**
Thank you all for reading my article. I’m a part of the largest online marketplace for Black-owned businesses called We Buy Black. Similar to Etsy or Amazon, this website allows for Black-owned businesses to create a shop and sell their amazing products to the world! If you have a product, you should definitely join this platform! We Buy Black also has it’s Inaugural We Buy Black Convention happening this November 16th-17th in Atlanta, GA and I hope to see you all there. In fact, I along with hundreds of others will be wearing our official We Buy Black T-shirt, so here’s my gift to you: Get 50% off the official WBB T-shirt using my code WBB2018. Peace, family!

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