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Thursday, 2 October 2014

New book features mas of Stephen Lee Heung

A new book of unseen historic photos of Carnival is being celebrated at a book launch that will offer amazing unseen film footage of Stephen Lee Heung’s bands including the only known footage of Paradise Lost, the first carnival band designed by Peter
A masquerader from Stephen Lee Heung’s 1976 band Paradise Lost
 which was designed by Peter Minshall. PHOTO: GEORGE TANG
The book We Kind ah People, The Trinidad Carnival Masquerade Bands of Stephen Lee Heung with photography by George Tang and text by Ray Funk will be launched at the AV Room at Nalis at 6 pm on October 7, a release said. 
Stephen Lee Heung is one of the great mas bandleaders whose legacy is unparalleled. He briefly led small bands in the 40s but it was 1964 that he formed a major band, hiring Carlisle Chang as his first designer and immediately leaped to the top ranks of bands like those of George Bailey, Harold Saldenah, and Edmund Hart. 
From 1964 to 1996, Stephen Lee Heung was always considered a leading bandleader. He won band of the year six times, was awarded the Humming Bird prize and often had king of the band or queen of the band. His late wife Elsie was an integral part of the band every year and the book is dedicated to her. With hundreds of photos this book is part of the needed legacy on documenting great masquerade bandleaders of the past. 
The stunning photos are by Stephen’s cousin George Tang and have remained unseen for these many decades. “Discovered” by Ray Funk who met Tang through his son in law Mark Loquan, the composer of music for the steelpan and founder of the Music Literacy Trust. They worked together to produce this first book of his photos with Funk contributing a detailed history on Stephen Lee Heung’s bands. 
Tang photographed 20 years of the band’s history from 1974 to 1994. These photos represent key years from the bands designed by Carlisle Chang to those of Follette Eustace including Band of the Year We Kind ah People to several Wayne Berkeley designed bands like Cocoyea Village and Follette Eustace’s bands like Columbus and Festival. 
The organisers of the book launch said it will be a bit unusual because it will be as much a film show as it is a book launch. For the first time, the public will have a chance to see a part of the film that Tang took. The plan for the book launch is to show the silent film footage and have Tang and others talk about the bands. It is hoped that many people who were part of the band will come to the launch.
For the legions of Minshall fans the book will have special interest because of Tang’s documentation of Paradise Lost. The book includes a number of amazing photos from that year and the book launch will feature this footage of Paradise Lost that is the only known footage that has survived for that year.
Ray Funk is a retired Alaska judge who has been coming to Trinidad for Carnival for almost two decades. He started with a love of calypso that has grown into a passion for pan and an obsession with traditional carnival characters and classic mas bands. He writes articles for the Trinidad newspapers, co-curated an exhibit on the globalisation of calypso, and gives annual presentations at Nalis during Carnival and now presents rare historic film clips each Carnival for the T&T Film Festival. 
He also co-wrote and produced a major study on the Calypso Craze of 1957 that has just been released by Bear Family Records in Germany as a box set with a large coffee table book, six CDs and a DVD. It will soon be available in Trinidad with a launch planned for next Carnival. 
Because of limited seating and expected high demand, reservations should be made. 
E-mail with a name and the number of seats requested. 
We Kind ah People will be available from Paperbased at the Normandie Hotel in Trinidad and later this year on Amazon. For further information or to arrange interviews, contact Ray Funk at or call 868-714-8555.

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