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Roy Ralph – A true Carnival Mas – ter

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20.JUNE.08

Editor: I rate L. Skully Hunte very high in the mas world. Not because he is a close friend but because of his exceptional ability with colours, his geometric approach to design and his ability to accurately produce 3 dimension mobiles (big costumes for king and queen) of what he drew.{{more}}

Having said that, let me juxtapose this. I rate the late great Roy Ralph above Skully (I know Skully won’t mind me saying this). I think Roy was SVG’s finest mas maker of all time. I know there are lots of greats (small g) from various generations: Doc Forde, Karka Jacobs, Reid, Jimmy Waldron, Raffai Davidson, Boyce, Sammo, Avis, Puzzle, Pilling, Grumma, Kenneth Ash, Charity, Dinks, Sheggy, Janice Niles, Becks, Goat, Yank, Bird, even my MAS twin Brian Huggins, and a few I might have forgotten, but for me, as a mas maker of no small skill myself, both in SVG and NY (I started VINCI MAS in NY in 1972, Roy worked with me in 73, Skully joined us in 74 to 76), (please note I said MAS MAKERS, not just mas players). Roy Ralph was peaks above the rest in every aspect of the creatitivity process.

In that list above, I would like to mention some other names (via T&T) Bobby Ammon, George Bailey, Steven Le Heung, Saldenha, Cito Velasquez, Wilfred Strasser, McWilliams, Errol Payne, and others.

Roy had a creative flair and an inventive mind and he had a pair of hands that worked magic with any kind of material: mud, metal, wire, fiber glass, cociea, paper, metal tubing, bamboo, cloth, just about any type of material.

I first met Roy when he was learning “trade” with a legendary tinsmith and metal worker, Mr Eastman, near the (Brisbane’s) Greens. This was 1959 when I was producing Vikings and their Mythology, the finest metal mas SVG has ever seen (thanks to Mr Eastman making the crowns for me). When I left SVG, Moby Dick, Kentish Cunningham, Sevens Knights and Sam DeBique took over my band. I drew the costumes in Engand and mailed them home. A year or two later Roy joined them. About four years later Roy broke out on his own and although he didn’t win every band of the year, he certainly dominated Vincy mas for the next 25 years. Roy was the man to watch and the man to beat.

It was a joy for me to be in his mas camp and watch a master at work. Nothing was ever a technical problem, he could find a solution. (I wish we had politrickans like that).

My favourite mas that Roy built and portrayed was The Kracken from his production “Waterworld”. That should be in a museum somewhere. I am sure he has done even better than that over his nearly 40 years in SVG Carnival, but that is MY favourite from an artistic point of view.

Roy invited me to join his band “Warriors of the Sun” (1996) and as he put it to me: “This is your kinda mas Paddy. Ah playing Aztec, Maya, Inca, all that in one”.

“Build something and bring it down man. The CDC honouring me this year and ah would like you to be there.” I did just that.

As many of you know, one of his sons was murdered on a Carnival Sunday night 8 or 9 years ago. He grieved privately and painfully but it did not stop his artistry.

Roy was the consumate artiste. His creation came about, no matter what circumstances manifested itself. Many of the younger mas makers of today owe their training and skills to Roy Ralph, even Dragons (who usurped his name (Dragon).

I know all the Vincy mas men in NY feel a sadness and a loss, and I think I can vouch for them and speak for them in saying that we lived in the time of, and we have lost one of the GREATS (big G). Roy was truly a master.

Hail, Roy Ralph.

Paddy Corea

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