Dougla Rhythm? Sokah? We now call it Soca!

I have heard so many people lay claim to Soca and many have tried to emphasize that it is a fusion of American soul music and calypso - they are all wrong and clearly misrepresent the facts to suit their selfish desires!

The soca music that we know today (Power Soca and Groovy Soca) is not the same that was created by Mr. Garfield Blackman aka Lord Shorty - the music has evolved but the base rhythm is the same.
Many have also declined to acknowledge that East Indian music in Trinidad had a very major impact on the creation of the music. No one outside of Trinidad was responsible for the creation of Soca.  Who was? As I indicated in the opening paragraph and every Trinidadian knows that Garfield Blackman aka Lord Shorty (he later changed his name to Ras Shorty I) created the Soca beat and the rest of the World should know this to be a fact!

Ras Shorty I then Lord Shorty had a purpose when he was experimenting with blends of East Indian and Calypso music. As Shorty stated, (during the period 1969-1970) it was his hope that the music could bring both cultures together - Trinidadians of East Indian and African ancestry.
So what is Soca? In Ras Shorty I's words it is the combination of East Indian and African Rhythms which he termed a Dougla Rhythm. It was not American soul music but the "Soul or Trinidad, the soul of Calypso" that came out of the music.

Shorty stated that it all started with 'Indrani' when he first recorded this new beat. This album "Love Man" failed with poor sales figures. He was accused of trying to sound Indian when he used the Dholak on the ten recorded songs of that failed album. This is where the beat started and after the failure of this album he moved on to his next project named "Endless Vibrations". It is from this project that he incorporated the rhythmic structure from the Dholak and incorporated it with the drum set and gave it the name SOKAH. He stated that the "KAH" represented the East Indian finger print or as Shorty stated East Indian influence on the music. However as faith would record it Ivor Ferreira a journalist working for the Punch newspaper, misspelled Sokah in print using Soca. He stated that he did not mind the error in spelling because it was all about the rhythmic structure of the music and not about the spelling. He wanted it to be known that it  is was about the 'soul of calypso' and not Soul and Calypso.

Regarding the new direction the music he stated that in 1977 when Maestro sang Savage and Kitchener sang Sugar Bum Bum, he knew that it was time to step away from the change that was taking place.  He created the music but never envisioned it going it this direction. He knew that something had to be done and as a result he went ahead with his new project taking the music along the path he wanted to see it go.

The birth of Jamoo music (Jehovah’s music) which is the soul of calypso blessed with the spirit of God in the music came to fruition.  This is what he termed born again Soca. I have included the 1995 interview from the G.B.T.V CultureShare Archives that was sourced from YouTube. Please watch this video take note of the words of the creator of the music. Never again should any Trinidadian put up with the nonsense claims by others regarding Ras Shory I's creation of Sokah the music that we know today as Soca. Ras Shorty I died on July 12, 2000 of multiple myeloma (a type of bone marrow cancer).

Now sit back and listen to Ras Shorty I (the creator of Soca) tell you  how it all happened: 

Now after reading the article above and watching the video it is apparent that the article was written with a clear bias to Shorty as the creator and innovator of Calypso into Soca. Most people tend to believe the claim that Shorty created Soca.  We do know that he gave a class of music the name Sokah that was eventually misquoted as Soca and the name stuck. So the major question is this, is the music that Shorty experimented and created so many years ago the Soca that we know today? In other words what are the elements that make a song a  Soca song and can you identify those traits in the music Shorty created and named Soca?

Dimitry Subotsky puts forward an interesting case for King Wellington as the person who impacted the move from Calypso to Soca.  Here is a snippet from an article that appeared in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper:  "I tried to think of what records I had heard from the early to mid-’70s that stood out as being different, and my mind was drawn to two particular albums by the same calypsonian. Examining his prior work led me to believe that this man played an important part, if not the most important part in the development of calypso into soca. That man was King Wellington."

Here is another paragraph from the article: "The influences of American soul and funk, giving space to the musicians, the prominence of the electric bass, the extended instrumental play-outs and the move away from the big band sound are all key elements of early soca, and they are evident in the recordings of King Wellington more prominently and earlier than that of any other artist.

We will take a look at these and other matters of significance regarding the move from Calypso to Soca and the many claims to ownership regarding the creating of this music genre.
Listen to the man and his music:
Vibrations Groove - Lord Shorty & The Vibrations International

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