Designer Kevin Small with many of the trophies he and his band Fifth Element has won since 2013. (Picture by Lennox Devonish)
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Small in stature but not in mindset.
For the second straight year, bandleader Kevin Small of Fifth Element won the now coveted Robert Weekes Award – Best Festival Designer. This means the band amassed the most points during Junior Kadooment in association with Consolidated Finance and Republic Bank Grand Kadooment.
“The band house initially started at ten different locations across Barbados. Everybody had stuff working on at their residence, so the car which was awarded last year came into play perfectly because it was a matter of bussing the equipment and supplies so that everyone had what they needed.
“Some nights I left home at 6 p.m. and wouldn’t get back home until 9. It was a little taxing at times, but we pulled through,” Kevin Small said.
The band house is now at Canewood Road, St Thomas, where Small resides.
Last Thursday when an EASY magazine team visited several of the winning pieces from this year were still displayed.
What is even more impressive though is his display of about 30 trophies which the band had stacked since starting five years ago.
With the assistance of about 40 people who he thanked profusely, they were able to create costumes for a combined total of over 500 for both bands. A clear increase over previous years.
The theme Street Talk which they depicted on Grand Kadooment Band came to him during the presentation of his Mazda 2 last year.
It won him first places in categories such as Traditional, Most Colourful Small Band, Community Costume, Best Individual Male and Presentation Of The Year.
And the Virtual Reality theme for the juniors got him a number of top three places but first place in Topical category and ultimately the Best Junior Band.
There were long intense nights of stitching, wire bending and travelling to and from a number of temporary band houses.
The 26-year-old is a pastry chef but he admitted that designing took up the majority of his time.
His innate talent blossomed ignited some12 years ago and he built on it by taking some National Cultural Foundation classes and while working under other seasoned bandleaders such as Gerald Walcott and Donna Howard, his talents blossomed.
Despite his ascension, Small believes it’s important to take a hands-on approach, especially on the less glamorous tasks.
“I found that it pays to lead from in front and lead by example. You get a better results when you cut something else that no one else wants to cut. As the leader of the band, I have no problem assisting you, so you don’t feel less important than the other person who may be doing more of a ‘glorified’ job,” he said.
When asked his thoughts on the move away from traditional costumes, he made it clear he had no issues with feathers and beads, but it just isn’t his style.
“Winning is the icing on the cake for me. It is more about telling a story and educating not only the masqueraders, but those looking on or who may be in the earshot of the production.
“Yes, times are changing and we do have to advance a bit, but to each his own, and some persons might prefer to do feathers and beads, and I prefer to stick to the traditional mas.
“There are a lot more stories to be told through traditional mas on a yearly basis, which I why I tend to stick in this realm. Yes, we may try to incorporate feathers and beads for the mas, but at the same time Fifth Element will remain as a traditional mas band,” he added. (TG)