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Take 5 with the Mighty Shadow

Sunday, August 12, 2018

In 1974 The Mighty Shadow born Winston Bailey gave the calypso world Bass Man. He followed up just a little over a decade in 1992 with the runaway Caribbean all star hit, telling us music had no friends nor enemies so everyone can Dingolay.

Somewhere in between, he called for us to help him ease ‘d’ Tension in 1988.

And who could forget his warning to us to ‘Pay De Devil’ if you owed him when he sang of the then changing face of Carnival.

This calypso poet and philosopher was set apart by his style code in attire, likened onto that of the Midnight Robber, his distinct ‘skip rope’ jump or hop and his ‘jumbie’ beats. In 2003 he was awarded the T&T Humming Bird Medal (silver) for his contribution to the calypso fraternity.

Now at 77, the Belmont native who grew up in Les Coteaux Village, Scarborough, Tobago, is set to receive an honorary degree (conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Letters) from UWI St Augustine Campus at its 2018 graduation ceremony in October.

Bailey would be joined by several other honorees including R&B Barbadian-born singer/songwriter Robyn Rhianna Fenty and former West Indian international cricketer Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Bailey is featured in this Sunday Guardian’s Take 5 as he shares with us his response to his selection and what The Mighty Shadow has been up to lately.

You are receiving an honorary degree from UWI in October. You now join fellow calypsonians and musicians like the Black Stalin and Roy Cape. Tell us your initial feeling receiving this honour. Is it long overdue?

That’s the big question! My music was made for the people and T&T agreed I should accept it, because it is a long time now people saying I should get something, which I never got. It’s a good thing. It’s a long time I been doing what I’m doing and people say it’s a long time it’s been overdue, you know.

What has been Shadow up to lately? Is there some new music coming our way soon?

That is what I do. That’s what I know…to make music.

Calypso, what’s happening to it? Do we even still authentically have the genre?

Well yes, but everything is in its own way. We had one type of thing going overtime, and then it changed to something else and something else again and just keeps on changing. People love what they love through the seasons as we call them. My thing is a special thing that people love and I think it has always been that way.

How’s your health these days?

Big question, yes. The last time I thought I was healthy, and then I was in the hospital. That’s how the health does move. I can’t tell you how it will be tomorrow.

As a calypso patriarch in your own right, if you had to do your career all over again, what would you do differently?

I would do the best I could do. I will do the same as I’ve been doing, making great music because that lives within me.


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