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St Lucian Heroes: Cultural Icon Frank Cypriani Norville

by Karen Rollins Feb 4, 2019

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Frank Cypriani Norville was a musician, photographer, artist, composer, singer and teacher and a St Lucian cultural icon.

He was born in Barbados on 10th April 1944 but moved to St Lucia with his older sister after the death of his mother and attended school on the island.

Frank lived in Soufriere next to the St Isidore Hall which is where he is said to have developed his love for performing. He joined the Castries Catholic Youth Organisation and was influential in launching a competition for aspiring musicians and singers called ‘Scouting for Talent’.

In 1968, Frank joined The Helenites, one of the island’s leading folk groups. He also later became a member of the St Lucia Arts Guild and the Creative and Performing Arts Society.

In the 1970s he was able to use his passion for photography to secure a job with the Government Information Service taking images of various community activities across the country. He also went all over St Lucia showing educational films produced by the BBC at a time when televisions were rare.

Frank worked tirelessly to preserve the island’s indigenous musical traditions and in 1983 he published a booklet, ‘Songs of St Lucia: Folk Songs’, which was a comprehensive record of the island’s most popular folk music.

In 1986, he became a cultural officer with the Ministry of Community Development and later the Cultural Department. He was a long-serving member of the Folk Research Centre and taught folk music at the St Lucia School of Music.

During his career, Frank created several original traditional and contemporary folk songs in English and Creole. He compiled 28 of them in a book published in 2001 called ‘Sweet St Lucia’.

Frank became seriously ill in 2014 and died on 8th April 2015 just two days before his 71st birthday. He is remembered as an influential cultural figure who made a long-lasting contribution to the island’s heritage.

Sources: Government of Saint Lucia / Folk Research Centre / St Lucia Star