Saturday, 8 January 2011

Genesis 1 - the Catholic Carnival Band

Bobbie Lee Dixon does a more detailed piece in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian on the Trinidad Carnival Catholic Mas Band called for 2011 Genesis 1:

To many the idea of any church launching a Carnival band may seem inappropriate...insane even. But Word and Associates, a Roman Catholic belief organisation, directed by chairman Derek Walcott, believes Christ in Carnival is anything but insane. At a launch on Tuesday held at the Queen’s Park Cricket Club on Tragarete Road, the organisers sold the idea of the organisation’s Carnival band—Genesis 1-Creation, to a room filled with corporate representatives, special interest groups, parishioners and the media.

The initiative has been blessed and condoned by the head of the local Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Edward Gilbert. He was represented by Monsignor Jason Gordon, who described the move as an emergence into the culture to take back Carnival, and to bring it to a place where those who wished to celebrate the greatest show on earth without the excesses, could have a space where values based on fun existed.

Referring to the scriptures, Gordon stated that in Matthew chapter 5, God spoke of the salt of the earth.
“Salt isn’t a main course that you eat, it is there to bring flavour. Carnival has lost its true essence and this is the main challenge we are facing,” said Gordon. “We need to see the vitality, the goal and the creativity of the people. Carnival isn’t about wine and jam as we believe it to be. That is what has been portrayed for so long, that when we say Carnival, vulgarity, lewdness and alcoholism are the things that come to mind,” he added.

He emphasised that over the years Carnival has also, in many ways, gone back to the earliest years where class segregation was very visible. “This is reflected in our Carnival bands today with the all-inclusive sections. Carnival bands have become like gated communities because of the way society is today,” he alluded. He said people who enjoyed the culture were forced to escape Carnival each year to avoid the vulgarity and violence.

Gordon explained the band was dubbed Genesis 1-Creation, because before Carnival reached its present stage, it was a festival that was blessed and was innocent fun. He said the group was seeking to evangelise the culture—announcing the gospel through culture.

We are prepared for the flack
Accepting that not all may be sold on the idea of the church being involved in Carnival to bring about change, the organisers affirmed they were prepared to receive and deal with the “flack” they may get from other groups in the Christian community, and even within the Catholic Church.

Fr Joe Harris, of the St Anthony’s RC Church in Petit Valley—the man who initially had the vision—emphasised that the initiative may spark anger and outrage at first, but eventually when people recognised the benefits of it, they, too, may jump on board.

The difference
Asked how exactly will the band be portrayed on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, Walcott explained that there would be 12 sections with a maximum of 1,200 masqueraders, 100 per section, with a Carnival Queen and King—Adam and Eve. The band will also cater to children, in keeping with part of the organisation’s mission to family values. The all-inclusive band will not be providing alcohol.

The music will be chosen from a playlist guided by Fr Harris. So far, Denyse Plummer and David Rudder are among those whose music would be played come Carnival Monday and Tuesday when the band crosses the stage. Walcott also stated that as part of the organisation’s plan to reinstate creativity and clean enjoyment on the Carnival days, all 1,200 masqueraders would chip to music provided by three steelbands; Valley Harps, Simple Sound of Arima and Laventille Rhythm Section, to bring back the authenticity of mas. There will also be a live DJ on hand.

Affordable and enjoyable
The organisation also gave a sneak peek into what the costumes would look like, as a few models showcased the designs reminiscent of ole-time mas. A full presentation will be made at its all-inclusive fete to be held on February 20 at Green Meadows Santa Cruz. The designs, under the guidance of veteran mas maker, Wayne Berkeley, were done by Lisa Bhajan. Other renowned mas makers assisting the band include Rosalind Gabriel, Raoul Garib, Anthony Alleng, Martin Oliver, Francis Woon Sam and Felix Edinborough. Costumes would be priced at $1,000 and $2,500.



  1. I always wanted this. They have my support.

  2. I stayed out of Port of Spain on Carnival Monday and Tuesday this year but still was able to catch a glimpse of the band over the television. I just wanted to let you all know that you have my full support. This band held true to the principle of sanctifying ordinary life! I look forward to a presentation next year.
    CL, Trincity