The Origins of Roots Junkanoo
The first stirrings of the heart of the Lion…
Born out of the collective vision of a group of young Junkanoo visionaries, the Roots Junkanoo Group first burst onto the Junkanoo scene in 1991. That group, who included Leslie “Les” Johnson, Kevin “Dribbs” Rahming, Anthony “Chinese” Smith, Wendell “Guts” Francis, Paul “Diamond” Knowles, Peter “Gold” Turnquest and Quentin “Barrabas” Woodside, set out to break away from the traditional leadership paradigms of Junkanoo and sought to establish a new democratic model where not only would each person would have a true voice in the leadership and direction of the Group but budding Junkanoo talent could be nurtured.
It was at a planning meeting, held in Gold’s backyard that Dribbs came up with the name “Roots” for the Group a suggestion that was enthusiastically embraced by those gathered. At that point, the heart of the lion began to beat… the Group was named “Roots”.
Some months later during its very first appearance on Bay Street on Boxing Day 1991, Roots placed a close 3rd behind the Valley Boys and the Saxons. It would be only five days later, that Roots would make a very clear statement to the Junkanoo world that the newcomer would be a force to reckon with and it was during the 1992 New Year’s Day parade that the Group captured secured a first place win.??Since first coming to Bay in 1991, Roots has with each parade raised the bar and has not only put on spectacular performances but has also led the way in encouraging the evolution of Junkanoo. In addition to utilizing innovative and unique methods of costume engineering and design like the introduction of 3-D Junkanoo costumes utilizing every day materials such as cake boxes, Roots costume builders and engineers also pioneered methods that would bring greater fluidity and movement to the larger costumes with the introduction of aluminum rods. The Group was also one of the first to embrace the use of feathering to enhance the appearance and impact of costumes overall.
In addition to leading the charge in costume design innovation, Roots also decided that it would take performance during junkanoo street parades to another level. Under the direction of Carolyn Vogt, the Roots choreographed dance section, better known as Showtime, was one of the very first Junkanoo choreographed sections to bring elements of traditional dance and stage production to Bay Street much to the delight of spectators.
While costume and dance are key elements of any Junkanoo parade, the leadership of the Group recognized that it was the music that was and is the heartbeat of the Junkanooer and considerable focus was placed on music both on and off the parades. With a strong backline and trained brass musicians, Roots was the first Junkanoo group to produce an album featuring Junkanoo music. The Group went on to produce three albums which were all best sellers and can be heard on radio stations even today.
Today the dream of the Group’s founders lives on. The Roots Junkanoo Organisation continues to embrace and mold Junkanoo artistes of all ages and provides them with an outlet for their creative energies. Taking its membership from all strata of Bahamian society Roots continues to evolve into one of the most dynamic and exciting Junkanoo groups on Bay Street.
The Executive Steering Board of the Roots Junkanoo Organization
The Roots Junkanoo Organisation began an exciting new phase in its development in January, 2010. With the retirement of the former Chairman, Mr. Leslie Johnson, a new leadership team accepted the challenge to guide the Group going forward.
The new members of the Executive Steering Board are:
Mr. Anthony Bain – Chairman
Mr. Peter Turnquest – Deputy Chairman
Mr. Calvin Balfour – Treasurer
Ms. Talia Sweeting – Assistant Treasurer
Mr. Jay Sargeant – Backline Director
Mrs. Delicia Campbell – Director of Administrative Affairs and Showtime Leader
Mrs. Nicole Sutherland-King – Director of Legal Affairs & Marketing
Mr. Andrew Edwards – Director of Finance & Fundraising
Mr. Godfrey Basden – Director of Asset Management
Mr. Johnson continues to serve the Group as a Consultant.
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RBC Royal Bank of Canada
RBC Royal Bank of Canada's history in the Caribbean goes back a long way. In fact, the bank established branches in the Caribbean before some of Canada's western provinces.
In 1996 RBC Royal Bank of Canada, or its subsidiaries, had consolidated its operations with 1,190 employees in Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and St. Lucia.
In 2002, management of the entire area of eight countries and 14 islands was moved to Nassau, Bahamas from Toronto, Canada.
Scotiabank (Bahamas) Ltd
Scotiabank is proud to maintain a presence in the Bahamas. Through 20 Scotiabank (Bahamas) Ltd. branches and a Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company (Bahamas) Limited location, we offer a full range of retail and commercial banking services, including electronic cash management.
Scotiabank Bahamas, a subsidiary of The Bank of Nova Scotia and one of the leading banks in Bahamas, offers a comprehensive line of retail and commercial services through an extensive network of 20 branches across the country. Scotiabank Bahamas is one of Bahamas's leading financial institutions. Our energies are focused on individual customers, employees, shareholders, and on building a strong community presence. Scotiabank provides innovative financial products and services to individuals, small and medium-size businesses, and corporations across the country.
The Mailboat Company Limited
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The Mailboat Company Limited - Bridging People, Products and Places
“Junkanoo is a major enterprise. The parade is a major exposition of talent and the venue for the creation of some of the most beautiful pieces of art work ever seen. I always tell everyone that I speak to that Junkanoo is a world class business... The Junkanoo artisans are world class producers. As far as I am aware, there isn’t anyone else in the world creating the kind of art which we produce out of raw materials like cardboard, wire, crepe paper, flour, and glue. That in itself, gives the Bahamas and Bahamians a sense of uniqueness. We can claim this art form, Junkanoo, as our own. It is indigenous to the Bahamas. This puts Junkanoo art on the same level as any other art form for presentation in art galleries or museums around the world.”
– Peter “Gold” Turnquest
“…Junkanoo may be regarded as the culmination of the tales of identification told to self (Bahamians) and to the other (tourists and foreigners)…Bahamian Junkanoo tells the following tales of self: it is simultaneously the central symbol of black Bahamians’ development, a metaphor for national progress, an affirmation of Bahamian creativity, an arena for social commentary and a ready tool for the education of the young. Perhaps the most enduring element of Junkanoo is found in the competition at the heart of the parade, a rivalry whose roots lie in the territories from which the groups originate. Here questions of place, land and identity are embodied in the practice of Junkanoo…”
– Dr. Nicolette Bethel
Junkanoo in the Bahamas: a tale of identity