Toronto Legacy Mas Band to honor the founders and original bandleaders

Mike Willams and masqueraders

Toronto Carnival’s Legacy Band is back and ready to celebrate the festival’s rich cultural history. Produced by Mike Williams and D’ New Regulars Arts & Cultural Group, the newly named community mas’ band initiative aims to encourage goodwill within the Carnival Arts community.

The Legacy Band 2023 will honor the founders and original bandleaders of the festival and take the form of a fashion T-shirt band with added costume pieces designed by Trinidadian mas’ and fashion designer Denise Carew. The band will be accompanied by a music truck, a ‘live’ steelband, rhythm sections, soca chantwells, and traditional mas’ characters.

Producer Mike Williams says that he is the oldest active mas’ band leader in the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, having presented mas’ bands continuously since 1973. The Caribana mas bandleaders’ alumni association, made up of veterans such as Whitfield Belasco, Eddie Merchant, and Ken De Freitas, will also be honored.

Williams has approached the Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA) and the Organization of Calypso Performing Artists (OCPA) to include their founders and honor the contributions of all the early pioneers in steelpan and calypso in Canada.

Legacy Band 2023 is an honorary band in the festival’s Grand Parade on Lakeshore Blvd. on Saturday, August 5th. Williams says that his mas’ band initiative is an example of how the Toronto Caribbean Carnival festival stakeholders and its management can come together for their mutual benefit and foster a culture of respect and collaboration.