Ralph MacDonald

Ralph MacDonald (15 March 1944 - 18 December 2011) was an American percussionist, songwriter, musical arranger, record producer, steelpan virtuoso and philanthropist. Ralph MacDonald was born in Harlem, New York, USA in 1944. As the son of Trinidad-immigrant and Calypso performer Macbeth the Great, Ralph grew up amidst the rise of Calypsonian revolution in New York City. The young boy was often placed playfully on his father's drums for a moment or two and, when he got older, MacDonald dreamed of someday achieving the regional success of his father. ...show more

Ralph MacDonald (15 March 1944 - 18 December 2011) was an American percussionist, songwriter, musical arranger, record producer, steelpan virtuoso and philanthropist. Ralph MacDonald was born in Harlem, New York, USA in 1944. As the son of Trinidad-immigrant and Calypso performer Macbeth the Great, Ralph grew up amidst the rise of Calypsonian revolution in New York City. The young boy was often placed playfully on his father's drums for a moment or two and, when he got older, MacDonald dreamed of someday achieving the regional success of his father.

At 17, Ralph helped a friend carry his steel drums into an audition for legendary performer Harry Belafonte. The friend got the gig, and MacDonald became a regular at rehearsals. When one of the players in Belafonte's Steel Band was late for a rehearsal, Ralph brashly declared his ability to play, and wound up getting the job. Thus began a 10 year stint with Belafonte that schooled MacDonald in the music business.

It also introduced him to songwriter Bill Salter, and the two began writing together to fill time on the road. At one point, young MacDonald had the nerve to tell Harry Belafonte that despite all the gold records on the wall, Belafonte didn't really know what calypso was. Belafonte said "Fine kid - if you know so much because your father was a Calypso singer, then you write me a song." MacDonald delivered an album of songs: 1966's critically-acclaimed Calypso Carnival. At 27, MacDonald, Bill Salter and William Eaton started their own publishing company, Antisia Music. ...show less