Band leader admits winning king costume design was from Trinidad carnival band

Hott Stuff Promotions Trinidad Junior King (left); AJ and Associates King of the Band 2018 Grenada

by Linda Straker

  • King of the Band winner costume designn is from a Trinidad band
  • Costume was portrayed in Trinidad by a child, and in Grenada by an adult
  • Spicemas Corporation to review guidelines

Keymal Williams, one of the band leaders of AJ and Associates has admitted that the band’s winning piece for King of the Band competition for Grenada’s Carnival 2018, was indeed the costume design out of Trinidad and Tobago 2018 that won the Junior King title.

Called “Explosion of our Culture” the costume was created and designed by Hott Stuff Promotions and was portrayed by a child who scored 413 points to win the Junior King of the Band title in the Trinidad Children Carnival.

However, in Grenada, it was called “Expression of Culture” and was portrayed by an adult male. “We went down to Trinidad for its carnival, and we saw the costume and decided that we were going to adopt it because it fell within the concept we had decided to portray for our carnival,” Williams said. He explained that the band decided it would use the costume design with permission for its adult king of the band.

“We met with the people behind the costume, and they agreed to work with us to make it happen. We actually brought them up to Grenada to build the costume here,” said Williams who claimed that he had spoken with persons from the Grenada Mas Band Association and they gave him the approval to adopt the piece out of Trinidad.

“The rules said that to participate in the competition the costume must be built in Grenada, and we did build it here. I’ve got my receipts to show where I purchased the raw material and then we had the guys come up from Trinidad. The costume was built here, so I don’t understand why there is a concern now,” he said.

“As a matter of fact, the costume used in Trinidad was smaller, I think it was a 12 x 14 while we made our king bigger; it was a 20 x 20 and the size was the only concern because we were working on it before Spicemas Corporation put out the rules,” he added.

Spicemas Corporation published the rules in a special newspaper publication that was distributed free in April 2018 at the launch of Spicemas 2018.

Chearvon Benjamin, Public Relations Officer of the Grenada Mas Band Association confirmed that the rules only make it mandatory for costumes to be built in Grenada, and there is no guidance about a costume entering another competition outside of Grenada.

However, the score sheet guidance for judges of Kings and Queens of bands explains under “creativity” for Originality of Concept that the judge is looking for how the bandleader brought the concept of the band to life, what original ideas did they use. “This does not mean that they can’t use an idea that you have seen before, or that was used before. You judge them on how they brought the concept to life,” states the score sheet guidelines.

Williams said that he attended numerous mas band workshops and was always told that the judges would judge a costume as presented at the time.

The name of AJ and Associates band for 2018 carnival was “The Colours of Life: The Spice of Grenada.” Its queen of the band placed second in the competition.

Kirk Seetahal, CEO of the Spicemas Corporation said that the matter was drawn to the corporation’s attention. “It will be investigated with the aim of amending the rules to ensure that this is not repeated in the future,” he said.

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