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TWENTY years after Ras Shorty I drew his last breath, his legacy lives on. To mark the 20th anniversary of his passing, his children and fans will gather at the Blackman ranch in Piparo, South Trinidad today to pay tribute to the Father of Soca and jamoo music who left an indelible mark on the culture of T&T.
The first time I saw calypsonian/musician/pioneer of soca, Ras Shorty I in person was in 1987. I was walking along Frederick Street in Port of Spain, near Golden Doors Arcade, when he appeared, accompanied by his son, Eldon.
LOS Angeles is a long way from Piparo, where Avion Blackman spent most of her childhood with her parents Ras Shorty I and Claudette Blackman and their large family. Even though the award-winning artiste and bassist for the group Christafari now lives in Los Angeles, California, USA, with her husband and their eight-year-old daughter, the path which Avion’s life and career has taken would not have been possible had it not been for the strong influence of her father.
“He was a very complex human being.”
That honest summation from well-travelled musician Sheldon Blackman preceded a nervous laugh when he attempted to put to words his memories of his father soca inventor Ras Shorty I (Garfield Blackman).
Ras Shorty I was, in every sense of the expression, a father figure.
Garfield Blackman cemented his place in the music annals of the Caribbean as the creator of one of the region’s most popular musical expressions: soca music. He also went on to create jamoo, the offbeat inspirational cousin of soca and calypso.
Calypso legend and soca music inventor Ras Shorty I (Garfield Blackman) will be honoured today from noon with a full music festival at the Blackman Ranch in Piparo.