February 28th, 1942- Leroy McLean Emmanuel (Short Shirt) was born to William Emmanuel Martin and Louise Abedean and raised at Lower St. Georges Street in the Point Area. As a young boy, he attended the Moravian School and Point Government School. After completing his schooling, Sir Maclean began going fishing with his father and brother, Jim Emanuel Theodore.
From an early age, it was apparent that Leroy was to have a promising career in music as a result of his performances at backyard shows and concerts held at the Spring Gardens Moravian School. He also began spending time in the company of renowned musician, Oscar Mason. After finishing school in Antigua, Sir McLean took the opportunity to travel to the Virgin Islands where he would further develop his talent through exposure from singing at local bars. In this new venture, he would often perform songs from popular artists such as The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Melody.
In 1962, Sir McLean returned to Antigua and began spending time in the Dickenson Bay and Coperson Salt Pond areas where he would fish for shaligo and shrimp. During this time he would also have set his sights on the location of what would be his future business operations, next door to Anchorage Hotel in Dickenson Bay. In his journey to creating the establishment that we know today as Shorty’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, Sir McLean would have faced some backlash. He had started off selling shack shacks and food items such as burgers, hotdogs, coffee and sandwiches but, in 1973, the then PLM government demolished his base of operations. Further, in 1982, some other business operators aired their objections to his business operations as well, however, the Prime Minister at that time, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, gave him permission to continue plying his trade in the area. Sir McLean continued his operations for many years thereafter and recently, to mark the celebration of his 80th birthday on 28th February, 2022, the Cabinet made good on its promise to grant him full title to these lands.
Mclean was also among the pioneers of the glass bottom boats operation, providing seabased tours to the tourism industry from his Dickenson Bay base. He was also renowned as a supplier of fresh seafood to the hoteliers and restaurants.
Whilst making strides in business, Sir McLean continued to pursue his musical ambitions when he made his debut in the local calypso competition in 1962, and went on to win his first crown in 1964 with the songs, ‘No Place like Home’ and ‘Heritage’. He went on to become a ‘hit’ in the calypso fraternity as he built a winning streak that totalled fifteen (15) calypso crowns between 1964 and 1992, with back to back wins in 1965 and 1966. Apart from his collection of crowns, Sir McLean’s mastery of the art would also see him becoming a celebrated part of the overall Carnival celebrations through his winning of the coveted road march title a total of seven (7) times with hits such as ‘Lucinda’, and ‘Jammin’. His musical compositions were certainly ‘sweet’ and ‘overpowering’ as they easily made their way into the streets of Trinidad and Tobago snatching second place in that country’s road march competition with the 1976 hit, ‘Tourist leggo’.
Short Shirt stamped his name on the calypso artform in many regions. His partnership with Jagger Martin who was his lead musical arranger and band leader would result in over five decades of touring the Caribbean and parts of of the United States as a musical ambassador of the artform and for Antigua and Barbuda
Currently, Sir McLean is retired from active participation in competitions but his music and social commentary continues to hold much relevance in the society. He also continues to add to his body of work.
In recognition of the sterling contribution the artiste has made to the development of calypso over the years, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda awarded him a knighthood during the 2015 Independence celebrations.