Tag Archives: Roland Prince

Most Influential Antiguans and Barbudans

This list is not scientific.

But that’s not the point. The point is….there is no point just an opportunity to acknowledge some of the people who’ve helped shape life in Antigua and Barbuda over the last hundred years or so according to … a very small group of people …with internet access … and a facebook presence … who had time today (not today) … and were aware that there was a poll being run by a random person on the internet.

Like I said, it’s not scientific.

But it was fun and educational, and culturally-relevant; all reasons I thought sufficient to bring the top 10 here to the Wadadli pen blog. My primary interest was in seeing how many of our artists made the list but it’s an opportunity for us to reflect (especially as the year winds down, and as we lose more and more) on the people who have shaped life in Antigua and Barbuda.

 So, here we go.

Top 10 Most Influential (in Antigua and Barbuda) of the last 100 years … (according to some people on facebook):

10 – tied – Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing, Samara Emmanuel, Kevinia Francis, and Junella King (i.e. Team Antigua Island Girls – first all Black, all female team to row the Atlantic), Baldwin Spencer (former Prime Minister and former leader of the Antigua-Barbuda Workers’ Union),

 

 

 

 

Jamaica Kincaid (celebrated international author of fictionalized memoirs like Annie John, Lucy, and See Now Then whose newest book is a children’s picture book based on one of her early short stories), Lester Bird (former PM and officially designated National Hero who published his autobiography The Comeback Kid in 2019), Prince Ramsey (Doctor/HIV-AIDS awareness activist, calypso writer and producer who died in 2019) – one social media commenter said of Dr. Ramsey “I think he’s the most inspiring of them all”

9 Short Shirt (most decorated Antiguan calypsonian; the Dorbrene O’Marde penned biography about him Nobody Go Run Me was longlisted for the 2015 Bocas prize)

8 –  Obstinate (undefeated calypso icon)

7 – tied –

Edris Bird (former resident tutor of the UWI Open Campus who in 2019 also became a Dame), Andy Roberts (bowler, first Antiguan and Barbudan to play for the West Indies Cricket team, knighted),

Winston Derrick (deceased host of Observer Radio’s Voice of the People and co-founder of Observer Media Group which transformed the media landscape and broadcast media especially after a legal battle for the right to broadcast that went all the way to the privy council and with its victory opened up the broadcast media door for others to enter)

6Alister Francis (late former principal of the Antigua State College, a groundbreaking tertiary institution of its time for Antigua and Barbuda and the eastern Caribbean)

5George Walter (Antigua and Barbuda’s second premier and former leader of the Antigua-Barbuda Workers Union; officially designated National Hero)

4  Nellie Robinson (late former educator, founder of the TOR Memorial school which is credited with breaking down class/social barriers in Antigua and Barbuda, and officially designated a Dame and our only female National Hero)

3 V. C. Bird (deceased; second president of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, which is credited with boosting the voice and fortunes of Black and working class people in late colonial era Antigua and Barbuda, first Chief Minister, Premier, and Prime Minister – Father of the Nation, and first officially designated National Hero)

2  Tim Hector (late pan African political activist; media pioneer – founder of the Outlet newspaper and writer of the Fan the Flame column; fighter for press freedom through his investigative reporting, and battles in and out of court including the privy council, arrests, and alleged arson; award winning journalist;  commentator on politics, culture, sports; and political candidate)

1Viv Richards (second Antiguan drafted to the West Indies cricket team, the only Windies captain never to have lost a Test, one of Wisden’s top five cricketers of the 20th century, and officially designated National Hero)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So a handful of artists made the top 10 which is always good to see. But I did wonder who were the top 10 artists in the poll overall, hence this second list. According to the same poll – but in reverse order – and highlighting only the arts side of their life – these are the top 10 artists among the Most Influential in Antigua and Barbuda of the  last 100 years or so…according to the voters in this particular social media poll:

1 –  Obstinate

2 –  Short Shirt

3 – tied – Prince Ramsey, Jamaica Kincaid

4 – tied – Swallow (who with Obsinate and Short Shirt make up the Big Three of Antiguan calypso, known especially for his road march hits), D. Gisele Isaac (writer, cultural critic, author of Considering Venus, The Sweetest Mango, No Seed), Burning Flames (iconic jam band)

5Barbara Arrindell (writer)

6Reginald Samuel (sculptor, national flag designer)

7Ralph Prince (writer)

8 – tied – Oscar Mason (musician, masquerade artist), Yvonne Maginley (musician, composer, Community Players), Dorbrene O’Marde (playwright, cultural critic and activist, calypso writer, novelist), Roland Prince (musician), Joseph ‘Calypso Joe’ Hunte (calypsonian), Marcus Christopher (calypso writer), Alister Thomas (mas designer and builder), Robin Margetson (pan composer, Panache founder – pan school and orchestra)

9 – tied – Stachel Edwards (musician), Rupert Blaize (singer), Wendel Richardson (musician, one of the founding members of Osibisa), John S. Laviscount (musician, founder of the island’s oldest band Laviscount Brass), Isalyn Richards (director of the combined schools choir), Winston Bailey (musician), Althea Prince (writer), Oliver Flax (writer, playwright), The Targets (music group), The National Choir, Shelly Tobitt (calypso writer known for many Antiguan and Barbudan top calypsos of the 70s and early 80s especially through his collaborations with Short Shirt e.g. classic albums Ghetto Vibes and Press On), Ivena (calypsonian, Antigua and Barbuda’s first and to date only female calypso monarch), Bertha Higgins (musician, involved with Antigua Artists Society, Hell’s Gate), Veronica Yearwood (Afro-Caribbean dancer and choreographer, founder of the Antigua Dance Academy), Zahra Airall (writer, award winning dramatist and playwright – Zee’s Youth Theatre, Honey Bee Theatre, Sugar Apple Theatre plus her work with Women of Antigua, poet, arts event producer – notably Expressions Open Mic, photographer), Hilda McDonald (writer)

10 – tied – Novelle Richards (writer), Conrad Roberts (actor)

*

Apologies if I’ve offended anyone or breached protocol by leaving off all honorifics; that was a choice I made to leave off all instead of forgetting some as I am likely to do (better to have you mad at me for something I chose to do than for something I didn’t mean to do). All honorifics are, however, of course, acknowledged. Also acknowledged is that the named people have done much more than captured in my mini-bites. Some books are pictured in this post but remember to check our listing of Antiguan and Barbudan literature for books on or by any of the named influential Antiguans and Barbudans – if you’re looking specifically for biographies/autobiographies, scroll through the non-fiction list. Also, if someone’s picture is not included it’s because they’re not in the Wadadli Pen photo archives and time constraints didn’t allow for scouring the internet. Hopefully, that covers it – this is just FYI and for fun and I would encourage you to continue the conversation by sharing your picks for most influential Antiguans and Barbudans of the last 100 years or so (the or so is really 20th century forward to this year – I think those were the parameters).

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Remembering Roland Prince

“Things came sharply into focus one night. The Roland Prince Quartet was riffing on Thelonius Monk, and she was enjoying it, the wind brushing her face as she stood outside under the stars on a break.”  (excerpted from Dancing Nude in the Moonlight by Joanne C. Hillhouse)

***
Here is the man himself, Roland Prince, 1975, playing guitar in Italy with the band led by iconic jazz drummer Elvin Jones.

I don’t claim to be an authority on jazz, Elvin Jones, or even Roland, though I did enjoy his music Song of Roland and have had the opportunity to interview him and his wife, Calypso Val, whose music he produced. The first interview was about his extensive journeying as a jazz man and on hearing of his untimely, much too early at age 69, passing on July 16th 2016, I tried to dig it up so that I could share it here with you. But it was at least two computer crashes in the rear view and, unless I can dig through the Daily Observer archives for a hard copy, lost to me. I interviewed him for part of a series of interviews with Antiguan and Barbudan artistic masters that I called Vintage – his sister Althea Prince was also included in that series.

I say all of that to say that Roland is gone and I feel inadequate to the task of documenting why his art and life mattered – feeling keenly the absence of Tim Hector’s encyclopedic awareness of such things; people think of him and his Fan the Flame column as political commentary but for me what was particularly appealing about it was his coverage and insight as related to Antiguan and Barbudan art and culture. I do what I can here and have in other places I’ve written but there was a knowledge-base stored in Tim’s head that I don’t have.

My research, missing articles aside, and reflection turned up some things that I’ll mention, however.

Roland Prince (born January 1st 1946) was a jazz soloist, sideman, and ultimately bandleader – if you’ve been to Antigua, and dined at places like Russell’s and O.J.’s you’ve heard him play with Val, with the Roland Prince Quartet. The last time I heard him play live was a couple of years ago at the Watch Night dinner – Watch Night, on the eve of August Monday, right in the heat of Carnival, is the night set aside to honour the ancestors, symbolically, on the night they stepped from bondage to freedom in 1834. Roland lectured, I don’t know how else to think of it, as he played, and I remember being struck by his mastery of his instrument – he was on the keyboard that night – and his well-deep knowledge of music history. roland prince - Copy (1)

It hits me, not for the first time, thinking of this, how under-utilized he (many of our master artistes, because I’m thinking master classes, really) are by the powers that be – how unheralded by them and us, to some degree, even in death.

Roland’s wikepedia discography lists 1977’s Color Vision with Frank Foster, Kenny Barron, Al Foster, Bob Cranshaw and others – whose names I’m dropping by the way because the jazz folk will know who they are; 1972’s Senyah with Roy Haynes and Lean on Me with Shirley Scott; 1991’s Black & Black with David Murray; 1973’s Life is Round with Columbia Records jazz fusion ensemble Compost; and 1971’s Awareness with Buddy Terry. Then, of course, there is his extensive list of recordings with Elvin Jones:

New Agenda (Vanguard, 1975)
Mr. Thunder (EastWest, 1975)
Summit Meeting (Vanguard, 1976) with James Moody, Clark Terry and Bunky Green
Remembrance (MPS, 1978)
Elvin Jones Music Machine (Mark Levison, 1978)
Live in Japan 1978: Dear John C. (Trio (Japan), 1978)
Elvin Jones Jazz Machine Live in Japan Vol. 2 (Trio (Japan), 1978)

I am not in a position to provide a listing of any awards – national or otherwise – Roland may have received (perhaps someone will enlighten me in the comments section) but I was present at the one and only National Vibes Star Project Awards where he was presented with a lifetime achievement award – alongside Reginald Samuel, sculptor and national flag designer, and the original Burning Flames, which literally changed the rhythm of soca in the region.

Roland was one of a small handful of Antiguan and Barbudan musicians whose musicianship landed them a place with world class bands – the short list of these I’ve been fortunate to interview includes people like Dell Richardson of Osibisa, Calvin Fuzz Samuels who played with Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Rico Anthony who was the original drummer for Arrow’s multinational band, and, of course, Roland who played with Elvin Jones’ band.

Roland is part of Antigua and Barbuda’s Prince family which includes politician Sydney,  writers Ralph (Jewels of the Sun and inspiration for the Prince Literary Journal after his death) and Althea (How Country Pond got its Flowers, Ladies of the Night, Loving this Man, Being Black and more – also editor of So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End), educator  John (also a poet), sculptor Arnold Prince (who also authored the textbook Carving Wood and Stone: an Illustrated Manual), and others down the generations.

In a decade old interview with me (‘Althea Prince: No Labels Please’, P. 13, Daily Observer, February 3rd 2006), Althea said “’What I think is important …is that our parents provided an environment that was conducive to artistic and intellectual growth.”

There you have what I’m able to  offer (considering I’m not Tim) of what shaped the man and his contribution to arts at home and abroad, and if you were online when news of his passing broke, you might have had some insight to how he impacted others – something I hope he knew in life.

“One of Antigua’s brightest musical lights has dimmed. But his wizardry on the frets and keyboards will remain as bright as always for all time. Our icon. Our Prince.”

Though some were skeptical that he knew, that we know, even now.

“The great Roland Prince has passed away. Another one of our unknown greats. Not sure even Antiguans understood who this man really was. …We lost a genius,” wrote one poster.

Justin ‘Jus Bus’ Nation, an Antiguan raised and based music producer who’s produced Grammy nominated tracks for the likes of Snoop Dogg and Jah Cure, and whose collaboration with Roland, Free, is a favourite of mine, posted publicly, “Antigua & Barbuda just lost a great one! Rest in peace Roland the experiences you gave me in the few studio sessions we had together are timeless and forever imbedded in my mind & soul.”

I’m left – and will leave you – with one thing someone said, somewhat bitterly, and understandably so (especially considering how little newsprint our artistes rate at the end), “I’m sick of us only knowing the value of people after [they’re] dead…we, this little 108, we’ve produced so much, given the world so much, but we refuse to acknowledge each other.”

***

“Roland Prince,” he said.

She was surprised he even knew who that was. Her expression must have showed as much because he laughed.

“What?” he said. “One of the top jazz guitarists in the world, and he from Wadadli. You think I wouldn’t know that? How ignorant you think me be?”  (excerpted from Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse)

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Seriously, a lot of time, energy, love and frustration goes in to researching and creating content for this site; please don’t just take it up just so without even a please, thank you or an ah-fu-she-subben (credit). If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

 

 

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