Sheku Kanneh-Mason, aged 19, was the cellist at the royal wedding Saturday before last. Just about the time he was playing Schubert’s Ave Maria, in a setting of style and civility, two things happened.
The first was my train of thought that we had artistes of high calibre, who could execute the Ave Maria on pan and be as outstanding as Sheku; however, much of the world does not know this.
Likewise, as brilliant as the Kingdom Choir that sang gospel at the wedding was, we have choirs, such as the Lydians and others, who could have done as excellent a job; however, much of the world also does not know of our country’s choral-singing ability.
The second event—while the wedding was in progress—was receipt via What’s App of a video of scenes at a PanTrinbago meeting that were the polar opposite of civility.
I was severely disappointed to see the anger of persons, with whom one interacts around the panyards, exploding to the extent of verbal attack on a lawyer, who had come to serve documents, laced with a false and irrelevant charge that “You is not a Trinidadian.” That’s after some person said to be unknown allegedly threw beer on him.
The confluence of the stylish royal wedding and receipt of the disturbing video hurtfully underlined how many opportunities we have already lost to put our artistes in a position to become breakout stars internationally and the reasons for it.
The lack of an enabling policy to promote and support talent is compounded by constant discord, further undermining the opportunity to diversify the economy and shine internationally.
One ugly manifestation of the discord is the belief that anyone with managerial and other abilities—other than a few of the usual suspects—who seeks to promote pan is masking an intention to “steal” the pan away from those who play and lead it on the ground.
Personal attacks, such as “You is not a Trinidadian” or the claim that a sponsor is not a member of the appropriate tribe, are made, even when it is clear that the persons whose so-called right it is to manage the steelband are involved in mutually destructive warfare.
In the case of Reggae and Bob Marley, two of those persons who put Jamaican music on the world map by reason of their appearance might have been profiled as being “not from Jamaica.” In fact, one of them was white English but that was not treated as a disqualification of his ability to promote the now famous brand of Jamaican music.
I should also mention that the development of our sporting assets is equally blighted. The pattern of destructive habits of internecine warfare, freeness and nepotism runs through and through attempts to manage both performing arts and sporting talents.
I was so moved by the performances of Sheku and the Kingdom Choir that royal wedding Saturday was sweet. Sadly, the sweetness was infused with the bitterness of the display of Pan Trinbago madness coming to me at the same time as I was being reminded of opportunities grievously lost to build brand Trinidad and Tobago entertainment upon the many successes of our steel orchestras and choirs that travel abroad on their own efforts.
I have been involved in supporting privately funded opportunities for artistes abroad and am currently working on an opportunity for the Carib Dance company. This is additional to their scheduled visit to Greece, in respect of which the company is putting on a show at the Little Carib Theatre next weekend, on June 2 and 3.
Meanwhile Phase II, in association with the Hadco Group of Companies, held an all-inclusive jam down in its panyard. This event demonstrated the possibilities for regular multi-artistic pan theatre events, accompanied, as it was, with excellent catering.
The real and immediate opportunity to diversify the economy around our performing arts talents, among which the steelband is unique, has never been and still is not understood.
While partisan political manipulation, retrograde thinking, grabs for power feeding on distrust, prejudice and profiling inhibit investment and entrepreneurial partnerships, the cries remain.
Where pan reach? When will we realise its full potential?
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Lead it on the ground…..to where? For the most part Corporate T&T doesn’t underwrite to the extent of being true patrons, and the State is more quantity than quality or loyalty before competence.
I am told that the inventor of one of the Pans got banned from his school for choosing to play in a predominantly Roman Catholic School back then. I was also told that he was ‘white’. Unfortunately for him, it may have seemed that Ave Maria was mostly ‘black’.
Pan is in the schools now. Kids have a great opportunity to aspire to be professional pan cracks who can play at more royal weddings from home the way things are heading.
The future of the nation is in the children’s school bag…., lap top and pan yard.
If yuh cyar beat book, beat pan! Laptop will teach yuh how.
I have read your article and agree with some of your thoughts. I feel sad about the state of the Steel pans in T&T. I remember when George Goddard started campaigning about starting an organisation to represent Pan men in the 60s. Today all Pan Trinbago officials seemed to care about is lining their own pocket. I have no faith in the amateurs who see themselves as administrators equipped to run an organisation. They are only accountable to themselves.
I am continuing to spread the gospel of the steel pan around the world from here in the UK. So far I have taken the Pan to over 35 countries from Azerbaijan; North Korea Russia to name a few. More information about the MelodiansUK Steel Orchestra can be found on our website http://www.melodiansuk.co.uk. While on our website you can check our Gig List and have a look at some of our videos an 30th Anniversary documentary.
The World Governing Body for the Steel Pan is a big joke.D:\Mary & Terry\Terry\MELODIAN\Giglists 2018.docx
Next Month we leave for Belarus to perform at the British Embassy as part of HM The Queen Birthday Party.
Comparing Sheku to Pan soloists really underlines the fact that SC Daly is not a musician and does not understand the difference between passing the Graded music exam at grade 8 at the age of 8 with the highest mark and memorizing a Panorama tune, smh. His patronage of Lydian singers came after we had walked the length and breadth of this country singing sometimes for an audience smaller than the choir
Daly nailed it…..
Dear Mr Daly
I need to share with you another side of Mr Scoon’s truth.
Mr Diaz was across the road from the meeting’s venue when Mr Scoon arrived to deliver a second notice of the injunction,Mr Diaz called the members gathered to hear Mr Scoon read the document,and Mr Scoon proceeded to do so.
The document that was served earlier was wrongly dated (year 2015 ) and I presumed that was the singular reason that Mr Scoon came to drop the injunction,but with him seemingly purposefully staying to actively engage band leaders,some of whom have creditors (banks,stores,workmen,transport,players) on their backs daily.
I aggressively questioned the motives for his continued presence,and he aggressively stated “no meeting here today” or words to the effect. Members decided that they were meeting without Mr Diaz,as they are totally frustrated with the present untrustworthy executive (Mr Diaz included) and continue to seek their removal.
Mr Scoon is a stranger of the truth if he is alleging that:
(1) Beer was thrown on him.
(2) anyone said,he is not a Trinidadian.
(3) He was not a willing participant in the verbal exchanges that transpired that evening.
Mr Scoon probably got the “press” he and those he represents, need to convince “those not in the know” that bandleaders are “power hungry” for not wanting this present executive,to represent them any more.
It would be interesting to read the present central executive published position on many of the shortsightedness,obstacles to progress,(that you pointed out) as articulated by PanTrinbago P.R.O Mr Joseph.