Rosalind Gabriel’s History in Carnival 1977-2012
With over 33 years of experience, innovation and expertise in producing Children’s Carnival Costumes and Bands, Rosalind Gabriel has proven her talents as a significant and prolific female Band Leader and has indelibly woven her name and style into the fabric and history of Children’s carnival.
During the period 1977 to 1988, her efforts were principally in the production of individual character costumes for her own son and daughter, both of whom won King and Queen Titles of practically all privately run and State sponsored National Competitions. In this early period she worked with almost every prolific designer and wire bender. To name a few would be Peter Minshall, Steven Lee Heung, and Stephen Sheppard & Stacy Wells partnership, Wayne Berkeley, Cito Velasquez, Joanna Humphrey and John Humphrey. It was during this time that Rosalind Gabriel started her band beginning with about eight kids in order to meet a new CDC rule to qualify her King and Queen for the Saturday Children’s Parade of Bands. In 1997 Rosalind began working with designer Roger Myers and in 2001 to 2005 with Chris Santos & Gregory Medina. In 2006 & 2007, Rosalind designed her own productions with the help of illustrators.
Mrs. Gabriel entered into the presentation of Large Bands in 1994, after a successful four-year spell in small and medium bands, starting in 1989. The following is a list of her productions until the present time:
1989 – Court of the Mythical Fire Opal 2001 – Enchantment, Who’s Hiding?
1990 – Let My People Go 2002 – Long Time We Used To…
1991 – Time for a Tale 2003 – Melting Pot
1992 – Thru My Magic Garden 2004 – Nah Leavin
1993 – Coney Island 2005 – A Pinch of Minsh
1994 – Fantasea 2006 – Mas! Mas! Ah Know Yuh Name…
1995 – Amazing Space 2007 – Many Faces, One Nation
1996 – Cote Ce Cote La 2008 – Wings of Hope
1997 – We Are The World 2009 – National Pride
1998 – Tempo Part | 1/Trilogy 2010 – Love Your Country
1999 – Carnival Time Again Part2/Trilogy 2011 – The Story Teller
2000 – Panorama | Part 3/Trilogy 2012 – 50 Years G-Old
Rosalind has not only been consistently successful over this twenty one year span, setting precedents by producing the most creative and original costumes ever seen in Children’s Carnival but has also been a driving force and voice in the protection of the craft and proponent of moderation in the behavior of children and adults on the road. Rosalind carried this originality further by being the first children’s band to have its own music truck on the road. This she started in 1992 after she found that the public DJ’s poorly served the Carnival Saturday and Sunday road parades. The sound quality and sparse set-up of the DJ booths sometimes caused the children to walk two city blocks before music could be heard. Rosalind also had been agitating for many years to have some of the more risqué or obscene calypsos of the year not played at kid’s events. Having her own DJ finally allowed her to achieve her wish much to the delight of many of the parents in the band and other band members.
Rosalind again broke new ground and led the way by participating in Carnival Monday celebrations in 1994 (which stirred quite a debate amongst the Mas making fraternity). In her first outing she copped first place in the Band of the Day in the adult small band category from 1994 up until 1998. In 1999, The National Carnival Bandleaders Association finally yielded to immense pressure from the small bandleaders and created a new rule that stated, “For children’s band to be judged in an adult competition, there had to be two adults in costume to every child.” The rule was created for the protection of prize money that the adult bandleaders felt belonged to them and was being consistently carried away by Rosalind’s children’s band. Rosalind went on record in the press when this rule was effected saying that “she entered the Monday Carnival arena because she felt that the public and the visitors to our shores had no significant example of a large part of our cultural history’s proper costuming” visible on Carnival Monday. She further stated that “she saw Monday Carnival going the way of little more than a beach party behind a truck due to the fact that the band leaders did not enforce the wearing of the full costumes and felt compelled to intervene as an injustice was being done to our Mas Ancestors”
From 1999 Rosalind had started to feel and talk about an idea she felt was necessary and would fill a gap that existed in Mas. Her idea was the family band! Rosalind introduced the concept of costumes designed for parents of the children playing in the band on Carnival Monday, redefining a new role for the parents who choose to play Carnival together with their children as a healthy family activity. She is of the firm opinion that all, without excesses, could have a good time. That is, excessive wining and drinking. Her experiment started in 2000, and has proven that it can be done. The Family band concept has only grown from strength to strength every year with well over 40 adults playing in the band in 2005, with lots more expected for 2008.
In 2002, Rosalind went all the way by taking a small Adult Band – “Mas Past” (an amalgamation of her Kids band and her costumed Parents) on the road for Carnival Monday & Tuesday. This was a very successful venture, which again won the “Band of the Day – Monday” Prize. She competed again in 2003 with her presentation “Land of the Humming Bird”, which was judged winner in the “George Bailey Band of the Year” category. Some days later, the NCC changed results, and when Rosalind questioned them for the reasons for their actions, no satisfactory response was given to her and legal action followed in which she won her case.
Rosalind launched her website nine years ago. There are hits on this site from every part of the world with the most complimentary messages e-mailed to her. She takes great pleasure in receiving these complimentary and encouraging messages, as they fuel her to continue her good work.
Rosalind Gabriel’s talents are not only nationally recognized, but regionally and internationally as well. Along with a dedicated team, she has produced both adult and children’s costumes for Grenada, St. Martin, St. Thomas, Curacao, St. Kitts, Anguilla, Miami, Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, New York and Texas, where these bands have won their national titles repeatedly. She is the premier producer of children’s carnival costumes throughout the Caribbean. Costumes from her 1994 Presentation “Fantasea” were reproduced for the famed Sea World in Miami, Florida. She has been also called on by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago to be one of the key elements in the display and showcase of our culture to visiting dignitaries. Some of the events were for: – Prince Charles, Nelson Mandela, Warren Christopher, Retired General Colin Powell, Caribbean Heads of Government, the Prime Minister of India, the King and Queen of Spain, Prince Charles and the Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth II. Rosalind’s children also opened Carifesta Games and took part in the Miss Universe Parade in 1999. In April 2004 she was involved with the welcome back of Captain Brian Lara after his history making “400 not out”.
In 2005, her kids entertained the Vice President of China, the President of Chile, 50 Congressmen from the USA who came to view bpTT’s Oil Facilities here in Trinidad, and local and visiting dignitaries who attended the Inaugural Gala for the Caribbean Court of Justice.
In 1990 Rosalind piloted and has maintained for 21 years her “Cultural Charity Project” whereby fifty (50) costumes are donated to the children of St. Mary’s Children’s Home in Tacarigua. Every weekend, different children are chosen to wear them, so by the end of the season, almost all the children in the Home has a chance to participate, revel and enjoy the cultural heritage of our Country, thus engendering a feeling of national belonging and identity. She felt teaching the kids how to play is just as important as how to study and how to work! Rosalind collected some $450,000 in donations over a ten year period, the funds used to cover solely the cost of materials by asking friends, family and band members to “sponsor-a-child”. As the years went by, corporate sponsors became interested in the project and approached her to help. The corporate sponsors now on board with this project are Nestle (Orchard) and The Beacon Insurance Co. Ltd. This project is now in its nineteenth year and growing. This is a unique charity in its nature and duration. Rosalind’s own words are that she could never envisage having a band without her boys and girls from the Home. For this project, she was awarded a “Plaque of Appreciation” in 2005 from the Board of the St. Mary’s Children’s Home. Cargo Consolidators Agency Ltd. is another sponsor supporting us since 1999 by contributing towards the high cost of the D.J. Music. Without sponsor such as these, it would be quite impossible to produce this band.
In February 2003, Rosalind was informed that a photograph taken of a section in her 1999 presentation Carnival Time Again was selected to be reproduced for one of four Carnival Stamps to be issued. She was very gratified and proud that she was so honored.
Listed below are just a few of Rosalind’s achievements, as they are all too numerous to mention:
Red Cross Kiddies Competition
Queen of Carnival Title ten times with two hat tricks 1988, 1989, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
King of Carnival Title three times 1980, 2004, 2009
Band of the Year Title fourteen times with a triple consecutive hat trick 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
National Competition NCC/NCBA
Queen of Carnival Title six times with one hat trick 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005
Queen of School Bands Title twice 1987, 1988
King of Carnival Title once 1989
Female Individual of the Year six times with one hat trick 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005
Male Individual of the Year three times 1977, 1993, 2005
1st Large Band of the Year (Open) thirteen times with four consecutive hat tricks 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
2nd Large Band of the Year (Open) four times 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996
Band of the People’s Choice three times – one hat trick 1999, 2000, 2001 (this prize discontinued since 2001)
Rosalind is the only Bandleader in Children’s Carnival ever to produce a Trilogy, honouring the Calypsonians, (Tempo – 1998) the great Bandleaders (Carnival Time Again – 1999), and the Steelband Movement (Panorama – 2000). These are the three elements without which there will be no Carnival.
Rosalind was elected to the Executive of the National Carnival Bands Association as Junior Representative for a three-year term (2005-2008) and her achievements to date are as follows:
In 2005, the mobilization of the Junior Parade with the help of her Junior Sub-committee in implementing Music D.J.’s on trucks.
The review of rules and regulations governing nationally run competitions, which resulted in changes to the benefit of all junior masqueraders.
A massive prize increase for juniors of over 100% in 2007.
Assisted in the streamlining of competitions for the juniors as well as the seniors and will continue to bring changes that will upgrade Carnival celebrations generally.
Instrumental in spearheading the commencement of the NCBA Website, which was launched in 2005.