Percival ‘Vola’ Francis

Percy 'Vola' Francis portrait by Duke Wells

Junkanoo Leader, aka ‘The King of Junkanoo’

Percy ‘Vola’ Francis is often called “The King of Junkanoo”.

One of the oldest, largest and most popular Junkanoo groups is the Shell Saxons Superstars, which has been led by Vola Francis for more than 50 years. His leadership skills, drive, passion and exuberance has brought the Saxons more than 40 victories and worldwide recognition.

Vola, who can always be found at the head of the group leading the charge down Bay Street, has become well-known for dressing in kingly garb, adorned with a magnificent crown and scepter. And, for his Junkanoo Dance – the “Vola Shuffle”.

Vola is also the national co-ordinator for Junior Junkanoo. He believes strongly in passing the Junkanoo culture on to future generations. His father took him to Junkanoo when he was a child and he is pleased to see new generations of Junkanooers participating.

“It is important to keep our identity,” he says.

Percy was raised in a profoundly religious family with a Baptist Minister for a farther. He was educated at the Eastern Preparatory School #1, Southern Junior and Senior Schools, Prince William High School and The Technical College.

His passion for art and the discovery of his talent occurred around the age of nine, as a result of the influence of legendary Bahamian artist Don Russell. His interest and skills were further nurtured in high school under the tutelage of the renowned artist and educator Horace Wright.

In 1962, 14-year-old Vola began his Junkanoo career when he joined the neighborhood junkanoo group founded by Phil Cooper. In 1965 the East Street and West Street groups formed a coalition which became known as the Saxons.

By the time he was 17 Vola was the leader, artistic designer and costume builder for the Saxons.

He is passionate about Bahamian culture and preserving it for future generations “We have to find a way to bring that back and mold our young people into the kind of people we want them to be.”

“I don’t do it for self or praise or glory, all the glory goes to God… at the end of it all, the glory goes to God and that is my philosophy”.