PRESS RELEASE – Outstanding Saint Lucian folk musician and cultural activist Frank Norville died on the morning of April 8th at the Victoria Hospital.
The much loved gifted musician would have celebrated his seventy-first (71st) birthday on April 10th.
Young Frank migrated to Saint Lucia from Barbados with his oldest sister, after the passing of his mother and attended the St. Dominic Saviour’s Roman Catholic School in Soufriere.
In 1964, he launched the “Scouting for Talent” programme and later joined the Saint Lucia Arts Guild.
Between 1966 and 1973 Frank served as assistant to the audio-visual aides Technician at the Public Relations and Social Welfare Division, and in 1968 became a member of the “Helenites” – Saint Lucia’s famed folk choral group, producing the island’s premier recording of Saint Lucian folk music.
In 1970, Frank became a member of the Creative and Performing Arts Society.
In 1972, Frank (guitarist, singer) along with close friends, Augustin “Charlie” Julien (guitarist), Hilary La Force (guitarist) and Antonius “Secra” Gibson (drummer) embarked on a musical journey as members of “The Lucians”.
They were later joined by Eugene Sealy (flutist) and performed in 1973 at the ground–breaking ceremony for the formation of the Department of Culture, which would later become the Cultural Development Foundation.
Others would subsequently become part of the ensemble including Gandolph St. Clair (drummer), Martin “Jaunty” Regis (solo steel pannist), Norman “Charlie” Charlemagne (guitarist) and Joan Hyacinth (dancer).
The group was a regular feature at many of the popular hotels at the time including the then Caribees, Halcyon La Toc and Saint Lucian. Their repertoire was predominantly original music all composed by Frank Norville.
In 1975, the group of musicians and dancers visited Guadeloupe as part of a cultural exchange programme, the first of many such visits.
In 1983, Norville compiled and published what was the first, and is still one of the most researched collections of Saint Lucian songs, Songs of St. Lucia. In 1986 he became a Cultural Field Officer with the Ministry of Education and Culture, where he worked closely and for many years with Jacques Compton, deceased.
Three years later, he followed up his first publication on Saint Lucian songs with a booklet on Saint Lucian dance entitled Folk Dances of Saint Lucia: Traditional and Ethnic.
Frank spent many years conducting workshops in both music and dance in districts such as Soufriere, Vieux Fort, Dennery, Mon Repos, Choiseul, Laborie and Babonneau – to name a few.
The late 1980s would also see this talented maestro of folk expression serve as Officer-in-Charge of two national contingents to London for the performances of Ti-Jean and His Brothers, and participation in Caribbean Focus.
Frank also represented Saint Lucia throughout the Caribbean including French Guiana and St. Croix as well as the Republic of Seychelles, all the while teaching and performing Saint Lucian folk music.
Between 1992 and 1994, Frank conducted regular summer Folk Dance workshops in Tobago.
In 2001, Frank Norville released “Sweet St. Lucia”, a compilation of 28 original songs Traditional and Contemporary in English and Creole. This extraordinary musician was a master of the 12-stringed guitar, lead guitar, saxophone, banjo and cuatro.
In August of 2014, he served as an instructor for a Cuatro Workshop organised by the Bolivarian Republic of the Venezuelan Embassy and the Saint Lucia School of Music.
Throughout his life, Frank Norville was devoted to sharing Saint Lucian folk culture at every opportunity to promote and preserve Saint Lucian tradition for generations to come.
The Cultural Development Foundation extends heartfelt condolences to the Norville family, colleagues in the arts and cultural community and all his friends.
With his passing, we recognize anew, the need for redoubling our efforts to capture the wealth of cultural tradition, talent and knowledge of our elders.
We recommit to encourage the recognition and celebration of those who have given their life work to spreading enjoyment and knowledge of Saint Lucia’s culture.