SHADOW'S UNTOLD STORY
By Essiba Small
He is an artiste few can put their finger on. And somehow
that's what makes Winston Bailey the Shadow.
Contrary to popular belief and kaiso lore, Shadow was born in
Trinidad, but grew up in Les Coteaux, Tobago, with his
grandparents. It was his grandfather, a choirmaster, however, who
noticed that his nine-year-old grandson had an ability to sing and
started to nurture his voice.
Shadow's parents however wanted their son to be a pilot,
doctor, or lawyer, anything considered conventionally acceptable,
but he had already made up his mind that he'd be a singer.
"I was born with a lot of music in me," Shadow said
in his interview in Rudy Ottley's book, Calypsonians From Then to
"From as early as I could remember, the first time I heard
music I was stuck on it."
The "fellas on the block" made up his first audience
and from 1974 onwards the world came to know of a man whose songs
are bassline-dominated and his lyrics deep and thought provoking.
A look into the songbook of Shadow reveals songs like "Bassman",
"I Come Out to Play", "King From Hell",
"What is Life", "Crazy Computer", "Jump
Judges Jump", "Children Ting", "Dingolay",
"Poverty is Hell", "Tension", "Pay de
Devil", and "Snake in the Balisier"?
Going to the forest and mountains with his guitar to meditate
has been Shadow's primary source of inspiration for his songs.
He said: "Nature is the spice of life; it has always been
my pastime. I believe in nature. I think this is where the
inspiration for my song "My Belief" originated."
Shadow is also spiritual and thinks his spirituality comes out
in his music.
"I see God bigger than anything. A good man doing good
"My music is deep and high. So high that it is not
considered or understood by the judges."
Shadow's wearing of black clothes by the way has nothing to do
with obeah, voodoo or the occult.
"I feel good in black," he said.
"I feel like Shadow. I was born with something special -
music just flows. Every year I come with something good."
This year is no different. With a CD titled
I Sweet or What from which comes the popular tracks,
"What Wrong With Me", "Jumbie Rhythm",
"Angel" and "Scratch My Back". Shadow is
enjoying one of his strongest years in the calypso tent,
performing at Kaiso House. From the tent's premiere, Shadow has
been receiving no fewer than five encores nightly for
"Scratch My Back."
Shadow considered his fans as the most valued asset for a
performer. Despite never being crowned national monarch, the 1974
Road March champion says, "It's the people that matter
Entertainment For You
February 18, 2000