His Legacy Lives On


    ‘Greetings Across the World’ Creator Hailed as Visionary

    For those who knew Clarence Royes, his name may now always likely conjure up images of a man who embraced the human condition through his plays, films, music videos and popular television Christmas time series, ‘Greetings Across the World.’

    A visionary, an altruist, a magician, an unusual and unique soul, and even Jamaica’s own ‘Father Christmas’, the monikers used to describe him were many by family and friends who celebrated his life with performances and tributes inside The Little Theatre in St Andrew on November 6. However, no matter how those who journeyed with him celebrated his character, they all agreed on one thing about this engineer and creative: he loved life and he was passionate about it.

    Royes passed away on October 2.

    “We’re not here because he died. We are here because he lived,” his nephew Chris Patterson declared, as he co-hosted the celebration of his uncle’s life with noted Jamaican Media Practitioner and Actress, Rosie Murray-Tingling, whose career Royes also helped to springboard with his film, ‘Sunshine Affair’.

    And a celebration it was, as family and friends, including well-known Jamaican actor, Ronald Goshop; cousin, Member of Parliament for St Ann North East and soprano, Marsha Smith, along with several media personalities, and the bands ‘Music Addict’ (which played renditions of music created by Royes) and ‘J Summa and the Outlaws’, paid tribute and performed in his memory.

    J Summa of ‘J Summa and the Outlaws’ performs in tribute to Clarence Royes.

    Many talents, many passions

    Many recounted how each stage of his life was marked with a new passion that added layers upon layers to his complicated character. His earliest ambition and passion, his sister, Elaine Patterson, recalled of her “unusual” brother emerged when he was only two and half years-old, as he walked with elder sisters in their community of Drumilly, St Ann, and observed men breaking stones to construct a roadway.

    “You had men working on the side of the road and they would be breaking stones, and then they would be cooking and they would make some big dumplings… and Clarence thought that was what he wanted to be…, so that he could boil dumplings. He loved flour dumplings,” she reminisced, eliciting laughter in the acoustic halls of The Little Theatre.

    That fleeting passion may have also been the beginnings of his love for and eventual launch into engineering, which he studied in England in the 1960s and pursued on his return to Jamaica, where he became aligned with various projects across the capital city. But it was his love for the stage, music and film that would become the key source of Royes’ joy. During the 1980s he wrote and produced various plays including ‘Godson’, starring Carl Bradshaw, Ronald Goshop, as well as now noted playwright Basil Dawkins, who were directed by Keith Noel. He also wrote the play ‘322’, as well as the film series ‘Crime Squad’ and several other titles, which also starred Ronald Goshop and a myriad other up-coming male and female actors.

    Under his Drumilly label, he was also responsible for the careers of reggae artistes the late Grace Nelson and Mankind, and created, directed and literally shot various music videos for several local artistes via his outfit, Audio Visual Productions.

    A pioneer

    In 1987, he would turn his camera in a different angle to capture Jamaican life from abroad and bring it into the homes of their relatives in Jamaica in a move that was pioneering, and remains popular some 35 years after it began.

    “He took his idea to the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation and convinced the producer and management of that station to take on his project,” Emile Spence, retired executive at the JN Group recalled of the birth of ‘Greetings Across the World.’ The prominent Jamaican organisation, through its JN Bank and JN Money brands, has remained title sponsors of the programme since its first airing in Christmas 1987.

    “It was a joy for persons to be calling Jamaica National to get a number for Clarence so that they could get a copy of a video of the programme, because they were seeing their grandchildren who they had never laid eyes on,” Mr Spence recounted.

    “I remember a particular woman out of May Pen… asking for a copy of a programme because on one of the programmes she was seeing her brother for the first time in 30 years. That’s the kind of connection that this programme created, and this motivated Clarence to go on,” he underscored.

    Although it often faced criticism, especially in its early days for its raw and coarsely edited spotlight on Jamaicans overseas, Mr Spence described Royes as a visionary and maintained that his product was authentic and ahead of its time.

    “He was very certain from the start that what he was developing would stand the test of time. I remember Clarence in the early days sitting down with us and saying ‘Manager, let me tell you something, all when we dead and gone, this programme will be around,’ and needless to say, 36 years since he first beamed our family and friends from abroad into our living rooms, his legacy lives on,” Mr Spence praised him.

    Clarence Royes is survived by his widow, Carol, and daughters Jacqui and Krystia, who also all paid tribute to him at Sunday’s gathering.

    Having assumed creative ownership and direction of the programme since 2020, Krystia avowed that the popular Christmas programme will continue.

    “I do so proudly,” she declared “and I am looking forward to taking it to the next level, whatever may look like.”

    The 36th renewal of Greetings Across the World will commence on December 4 on Television Jamaica.

    Krystia Royes (left), daughter of Clarence Royes, creator of ‘Greetings Across the World’ and his widow, Carol (centre), greet Emile Spence, retired executive, The Jamaica National Group, sponsors of the long-running Christmas programme. Royes passed away on October 2. The programme, to commence airing on December 4, is now directed by daughter, Krystia.
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