In 1958, a visionary in the form of Winston “Gus” Cooper formed a Junkanoo group along with friends from the Centreville area of New Providence, all mere teenagers at the time. Ms. Gwen Fountain, mother of one of the members was employed with Malcolm’s Garage and obtained sponsorship for the small group in the amount of fifteen pounds for the Boxing Day parade. The group received a consolation prize.
In 1959, Gus’s recruitment efforts continued and he attracted Doyle Burrows and Edward Fritzgerald two personalities who contributed significantly to the group’s initial stability and growth. In fact Doyle’s brother Deyanza, gave the group its name The Valley Boys, as the area from which the group originated was “a valley” between three hills, Centreville, Hawkins and Sears Addition hills.
The Valley Boys name is synonymous with parade music. The organization’s management nurtured this section, resulting in the development of a body of talent unrivalled by other Junkanoo groups. The Valley Boys dominated with another first, Female Dancers. Mr. Cooper’s support of the idea of trained dancers performing synchronized, yet themed routines, which helped the group depict each parade theme; lead to champion choreography sections with numerous victories over the past half century.
Under Mr. Cooper’s leadership the Valley Boys has dominate the Junkanoo world from it’s inception. He contributed to the ongoing growth of Junkanoo by serving on governmental committees and organizations, endeavoring to make Junkanoo the official cultural identifier for the country. His love for this cultural expression has been documented and has inspired the youth through educating, mentoring and guiding them in management and Junkanoo skills. His dream is that Junkanoo flourishes forever.
Read the full article here about Vincent Gus Cooper’s pioneering vision and why he is celebrated as the Father of Junkanoo.