The Might Terror: a golden voice falls silent

The Mighty Terror, hailed for his golden voice, is remembered for his contribution to calypso

Fitzgerald Henry, better known as the Mighty Terror, the man with the golden voice. Photograph by Caldeo Sookram

Calypso connoisseurs called him the Mighty Terror, but Fitzgerald Cornelius Henry will always be remembered as the calypsonian with the golden voice.

Terror, 87, lost his battle with throat cancer on March 14. His brassy baritone voice was perfect for songs like his 1950 hit “Chinese Children (Calling Me Daddy)”.

Born in Arouca, Trinidad, on January 13, 1922, Terror began his calypso career in 1947 at the Calypso Palace. One of his earliest songs, “Negroes Know Thyself”, dates back to 1941. Terror also performed in the famous Young Brigade calypso tent.

In 1957, Terror became a foreman on a ship headed for England.  There, the all-time Road March King, Lord Kitchener, was already in self-imposed exile. David Rudder fondly remembers the legend of Terror jumping in a London taxi and saying to the driver, “Take me to Lord Kitchener,” and the bewildered taxi driver, not knowing Terror was talking about the calypsonian, replying, “He died about 100 years ago.”

Like Kitchener, Terror began writing calypsoes tailor-made for pan. He returned to Trinidad and beat Lord Christo in the 1966 National Calypso Monarch finals with “Steelband Jamboree” and “Last Year’s Happiness”.  “Terror was instrumental in the development of my career,” says Cro Cro, the reigning Calypso Monarch. “Because of Terror, I had my first TV interview. He was great with melodies, and his baritone voice made him a distinct and irreplaceable sound.”

Rapso artist Brother Resistance says, “Terror was a shining example in the kingdom of calypso. He always strived for excellence both in the art and the business of the art.” Resistance remembers how Terror was  “quick to get a lawyer.” He took copyright infringement seriously. David Rudder too alluded to Terror in his famous song “Calypso Music” because “Terror was a symbol of how calypso music spread—but don’t ever mash his toes, because he liked to sue.”

Once, he even terrorised a Trinidad newspaper because it ran a cooking story that used a few lines from his “Callaloo Tonic”.

Before he died, the man with the golden voice earned a national award. It was the one most befitting of him: a Humming Bird Medal—gold.