The calypso and soca star Mighty Shadow passed away on Oct. 23, at age 77. The Guardian has a great obituary that covers the musician’s long and successful career, but we figured the best way to pay tribute to a musical legend is through his own work.
Our good pal Morgan Greenstreet sent over a mix he put together of some of his favorite Mighty Shadow tracks that they played in a slightly different form on WFMU the day after Shadow passed. It’s 48 minutes of upbeat bliss—bounding horns and flutes and the constant patter of percussion that pretty much forces you to tap your feet.
Born Winston Bailey on Oct. 4, 1941, in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the Mighty Shadow was a truly unique performer. He was a wry, very funny lyricist, and an idiosyncratic performer, who dressed head to toe in black and punctuated choruses by jumping up and down. His songs were known for their melodic bass lines, which people took right to. He won the Road March, the award given to the song that receives the most plays during the annual carnival parade in Port of Spain, decades apart, once in 1974 and again in 2001. He caught on with younger generations in Trinidad and Tobago, who were attracted to hip-hop and dancehall, but found that same power of individual expression in Shadow’s music.
“Musicians, program directors, all of us became lifelong fans of Shadow’s iconic dance, his costume and mysterious, near-mesmerizing presence,” Mortimer Baptiste, a founding member of the Trini non-profit organization The Artist Vector told Billboard. “With his passing, there’s a hole in the calypso/soca firmament.”