Singer, songwriter and music producer Sharlan Bailey is shaking things up with his Carnival 2019 offering, Raising Hell. The son of the late legendary calypsonian Shadow (Winston Bailey) started his music career in the 1990’s with a rapso group called Platoon which included Titus Lewis, son of the late calypsonian Mystic Prowler (Roy Lewis). As a multi-instrumentalist and music producer he has worked with artistes like Mavis John, Duke, Bill Trotman, Brigo, Delamo and of course his father, Shadow. As a proven songwriter he has penned lyrics for Calypso Monarch finalists and semi-finalists namely: Eunice Peters with None of the Above, co-written with Omari Ashby from Kindred: Lady Adana with Ready for the Truth; and Stacey Sobers. Last year Tamico “Spicy” Moore performed his song Missing You. Looking forward, he is completing his album Planet Dread which he plans to release this year.
What inspired the track Raising Hell?
A short time after my father’s death I recognized that I was experiencing writer’s block. I was booked to perform at a show at Shaw Park that weekend and while I was cleaning up his room, the lines ‘All hail the Les Couteaux legend, to the king we bid farewell’ just came to me. Then I wrote one verse, but it was just one verse of the song. When I got to Tobago I remembered an agreement that my dad and I made about restringing the guitar that remained there. It is actually the guitar that he used to compose music for his songs from the 80’s till about 2001. The music for songs like Dingolay and Poverty is Hell were composed using that guitar. He eventually retired that guitar in 2001 though, but I stuck to the promise that was made and restrung the guitar. From the time I strummed the guitar rest of the song came to me. I have been on the music scene for a while now and like everybody else I been fighting to get some attention. The lyrics of Raising Hell reflects all the emotions that I’ve been feeling as an artiste.
Is this song a part of a larger body of work?
Yes it is! That trip to Tobago was very fruitful. Ideas for new music just kept coming. In addition to that as an artiste who has been around for some time, I have a lot of unreleased music as well. I plan on releasing music way past the Carnival season as an album I’ve working on entitled, Planet Dread.
Did this trip to Tobago help with your grieving process?
Of course it did. When I decided to pursue my passion as a performing artiste as a little boy, I never viewed my father as Shadow. To me he was just Dad, but his music and presence totally surrounded me. I decided that I had to define myself and my sound. I set those goals and went about it by learning various instruments and paying particular attention to music production. It was only after some time that I realized that in wanting to original and to be an individual, I was just like my father. There was no escaping the fact that we were so similar. This song represents me accepting what I need to do now. I’m not going to try to pretend to be Shadow but I have to represent my clan.
What are your goals as an artiste moving forward?
I’m about the music, so I don’t intend to box myself into one particular space. I tend not to create in one particular style. During the course of the year when I release more music my versatility will be better understood.
At this stage of your career, what would you has been one of the most valuable lessons that you’ve learnt?
There have been so many but the one that stands out is one that I learnt from my father. He had a rough exterior, he would hardly engage in public displays of affection. But for those that know him they would remember that he was a very loving man. He really believed in my ability and we worked various songs together in studio. I knew he admired what I was doing but that was something that I would never hear from him directly. It would always be one of his friends who would tell me the positive things he said about the music we were creating. There was a time when he became upset when I wasn’t being selected for shows and was hardly being noticed. At that time he looked at me and said “Boy, you good you know, make them hear you.” That has stuck with me till now, that recognition of my own talent and ability and the importance of perseverance.
How do you intend to make them hear you?
Honestly, I really don’t know but it has to be done. My father always said that in this business you have to keep knocking on the door. When the door final cracks, get a toe inside and start pushing and keep pushing until you get inside. However you when you finally get inside the door the fight has only just begun. So right now, I believe that I have the toe in the door and I am pushing to get in that room.