NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Three years after their first meeting, the highest executives of the Music Makers junkanoo group took corporate sponsors Royal Caribbean International into their shack to share an intimate perspective of Junkanoo.
“We’ve been treated to several performances by the Music Makers onboard our ships for special occasions, including our return to service following the pandemic or for inaugural sailings,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.
“We’ve even flown them to the Berry Islands, to entertain onboard and dockside at our private island destination Perfect Day at CocoCay, but we desired to see them in their very own home grounds, the place where all of the magic is created. It was fascinating to listen, to see and to find out how the pieces are made and carried.”
The visit took place at one in every of two shacks occupied by the Music Makers on Fowler Street in the guts of the inner city of Nassau.
Music Maker’s long-term chairman Gary Russell played host and described the physical element of Junkanoo performances, which might include carrying large pieces that weigh as much as 200 kilos.
Russell, who can be an attorney and performer, has been directing the Music Makers from his wheelchair since a tragic accident took his legs. His spirit for the craft, though, stays.
Bayley first met Russell on the Fox Hill Community Centre in 2019 because the cruise line was exploring ways to link with Junkanoo, wanting to lend support to the national cultural phenomenon. Impressed, he and the team began including the Music Makers, retaining them to perform at special events.
The next 12 months, as Bayley was speaking on the grand opening of the Bullock’s Harbour Community Centre funded by Royal Caribbean, he announced a serious sponsorship for the Music Makers.
“When Mr. Bayley announced Royal Caribbean would sponsor us for $100,000, I used to be so excited I leapt up within the air, wheelchair and all,” recalled Russell. “If someone had not been holding me down, I’d have gone up within the air and over, that’s how excited I used to be and in disbelief. We are able to never thank Royal Caribbean enough. They’ve given us latest life.”
With the Junkanoo parades back on tap this 12 months for Boxing Day and Latest 12 months’s following a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the Music Makers will return to Bay Street.
“We’re going to make Royal Caribbean proud,” Russell said. “With their permission, we’ve got renamed ourselves the Royal Caribbean Music Makers and we’re going to make some music. We’re in it to win it.”