Alfred Prag­nell: Bar­ba­dos’ Best Storyteller

Alfred Prag­nell: Bar­ba­dos’ Best Storyteller

Alfred Pragnell

Back­ground

Alfred Prag­nell was born in Guyana but even­tu­ally set­tled in Bar­ba­dos and made it his home. He grew up in Chelsea Road, a mid­dle class dis­trict in Bar­ba­dos and attended the Comber­mere Sec­ondary School. He was affec­tion­ately known as “AP” and was a mul­ti­tal­ented indi­vid­ual known for his broad­cast­ing, act­ing, calypso singing and sto­ry­telling abil­i­ties. One of the most loved works of Alfred Pag­nell was his hilar­i­ous “Proper Pork” Carl­ton Super­mar­ket com­mer­cials. His act­ing style was revered among his peers as he could add life, colour and char­ac­ter to what­ever he per­formed due to his unique voice and per­for­mance style.

Career

Pragnell’s career began in 1956 with Bar­ba­dos Red­i­fus­sion, a British firm with a sta­tion in both Bar­ba­dos and British Guiana. His voice was admired island wide as it had a sooth­ing tone com­pli­mented with impec­ca­ble pro­nun­ci­a­tion. One of the pro­grammes he hosted in Bar­ba­dos was Sun­day Mag­a­zine, where he would play a num­ber of oldies and clas­sic tracks and cou­pled the music with intel­li­gent mono­logues. The music played on his pro­gramme and on Bar­ba­dos Red­i­fus­sion in gen­eral was a decent change of pace from the usual up tempo music played on other Bar­ba­dian music sta­tions. His radio pro­grammes were not only broad­cast locally but through­out the East­ern Caribbean region as well. Later, Bar­ba­dos Red­if­fu­sion became known as Voice of Bar­ba­dos (as it is still known today). Prag­nell became Pro­gram Man­ager, a role which he ful­filled until what was an early retire­ment in 1988. He stayed on, how­ever, as a con­sul­tant, train­ing and shep­herd­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of radio announcers.

As stated pre­vi­ously, Prag­nell also dab­bled in act­ing. He was a mem­ber of the Green­room Play­ers, a group of ama­teur the­atre indi­vid­u­als, bring­ing together both white and black Bar­ba­di­ans on the the­atre stage. He also read many of the poems writ­ten by Jean­nette Layne-​Ckarke about Bajan hypocrisy and gos­sipy prac­tices, read­ing them with a verve that only he could, almost bring­ing them to life. Layne-​Clarke, in a trib­ute at his funeral said: “AP — as he was affec­tion­ately known — had a dis­tinct dis­taste for slop­pi­ness, and he was per­pet­u­ally dis­turbed by the cocky, cav­a­lier atti­tudes flaunted by so many pre­tenders in today’s laid-​back work envi­ron­ment” (Faria, 2004 in The Guyana Chronicle).

Pragnell’s most doc­u­mented works are in the area of sto­ry­telling, where he made a great con­tri­bu­tion to that seg­ment of Bar­ba­dos. His sto­ries are not only funny, but they pro­vide a unique insight into Bar­ba­dian life of yesteryear.

Addi­tion­ally, Alfred Prag­nell has been called the “Brains behind the Hole­town Fes­ti­val”. Prag­nell had a long stand­ing desire to com­mem­o­rate the set­tle­ment at Hole­town and there­fore as a result of his efforts and com­mit­ment, the Hole­town fes­ti­val was born in 1976 and has grown from strength to strength every year. Due to his con­tri­bu­tion to media and the arts in Bar­ba­dos, he has been some­what immor­talised with his works and pieces still avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic. Catch one of his famous short sto­ries, “How Maisie Ross Get Save” on Youtube where you can find many of his pieces.

Prag­nell even­tu­ally died at the age of 71.

©Arti­cle of Caribbean Dreams Mag­a­zine
©Photo from Caribbean​-heat​.com

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