Andrew Carr was a household name in Trinidad & Tobago and a man of many interests.
When he died in 1976 at age 74, the country’s then Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams and members of the People’s National Movement (PNM) party – which Carr helped establish – attended his funeral.
Almost 35 years after his death, Carr’s daughter, Joslynne Carr-Sealey, recaptures his rich public life through a book that had its Canadian launch last Sunday in Scarborough.
“Growing up with him was quite an experience because he was the man of folklore while my mother was a classical musician,” said Carr-Sealey, a principal singer with the Trinidad Opera Company and a well known vocal coach. “He was beloved by so many people in the community because of who he was and the various organizations he was affiliated with.”
Carr worked with the Trinidad Building & Loan Association for 46 years, rising to become secretary-treasurer before his retirement in 1967. It was, however, his work in the arts community and the tourism sector that garnered him widespread attention and respect.
He co-founded the T & T Ethnographic Society dedicated to the study of the twin-island republic’s folklore, the Trinidad Art Society, the Zoological Society and the Carnival Development Committee. He also served as the country’s Historical Sites sub-committee chair and as a consultant to the T & T Tourist Board for many years.
Carr also wrote The Cultural Personality of Trinidad & Tobago: The United Nations in Miniature that appeared in France’s La Monde Diplomatique in 1963 and the humorous and informative Pierre Grenade (a French patois speech form) that was published in the University of the West Indies’ Caribbean Quarterly.
The Belmont resident received wide acclaim for penning A Rada Community in Trinidad. Descendants of the Rada, Ibo, Congo and Mandingo people settled in communities in Belmont around 1870.
Carr was rewarded for his study with a Fulbright scholarship in 1953 to pursue folklore studies at Northwestern University in Illinois.
“That was the only time he attended university,” said Carr-Sealey, herself a McGill University graduate with a Music degree and a Music Education diploma. “He basically educated himself, reading copiously. He was also very aware of his African retentions.”
Carr-Sealey said she spent two years sorting through her father’s papers which were purchased by the National Archives of T & T.
“It was only after going through all the boxes that I realized the multitude of organizations that he was affiliated with and the depth of his work,” added Carr-Sealey, a T & T calypso monarch and steelband panorama competition judge for many years.
He Served His Fellow Man: The Life & Work of Andrew Thomas Carr is available at A Different Booklist, 746 Bathurst Street.
Carr-Sealey explained how the book got part of its name. She said her father’s best friend, Don Bain who died last year, was out of the country when Carr died. On his return shortly after the funeral, he refurbished the grave and inscribed He Served His Fellow Man on the tombstone.