Home / View Point / ‘T&T still mecca for pan’; Author Kim Johnson campaigns to reprint work on steelpan

‘T&T still mecca for pan’; Author Kim Johnson campaigns to reprint work on steelpan

Author Kim Johnson is on a mission to reprint his 2011 work, The Illustrated Story of Pan. Drawn from more than 600 interviews with pan pioneers, and filled with historical photos, the book documents the history of the steelband movement. Wired868 spoke with author Kim Johnson about his crowdfunding campaign to relaunch the second edition of the book.

Photo: Cover image of The Illustrated Story of Pan (Courtesy Kim Johnson)

Wired868: What made you decide to reprint the book?

Johnson: The Illustrated Story of Pan was originally published in 2011, and UTT did a very sloppy job of it and didn’t bother to launch it. Yet it still sold out and people still ask for copies. So, I thought there was still a market for it, especially in the US where there are about 1,000 steelbands.

Wired868: How is the second edition different from the first?

Johnson: I thought it would be just a properly printed version, better printing of the photos for instance, and correction of typos. Going through it closely, however, I was horrified at how bad the editing was. I guess I have to take some of the blame for not overseeing everything more closely instead of leaving it in the hands of the publisher.

Additionally, since 2011 things have changed a lot, especially my ideas on the state of the steelband movement. I gave a TEDx talk in 2014, and the research I did for that gave me new ideas. And then there was the 2015 International Panorama and the film I made on pan in Africa, both of which opened my eyes to T&T’s role in the global future of pan.

Photo: Excerpt from the Illustrated Story of Pan. (Courtesy Kim Johnson).

Wired868: How is the crowdfunding campaign going?

Johnson: It’s almost gone. It closes at 11.59 pm Wednesday, 1 April. So, you have until then to get your last-minute copies plus the perks they come with. You should check it out. Just go to our Facebook page: The Illustrated Story of Pan, Second Edition. Or go to Indiegogo.

Wired868: And how did you do?

Johnson: It’s been good; although, we are a few thousand short of the US$15,000 goal we need to print the book. I guess I’ll have to top it up out of my pocket. Not surprising, the arrival of the coronavirus has taken a lot of wind from our sails. People have other things to think about, like where they’re going to get an income.

I was most disappointed in the low levels of support from the US. Not disappointed for me personally, or for the book, because Trinis, especially in the past two or three days, have stepped up to the plate since we lowered the cost at the last minute.

Photo: Simple Song Steel Orchestra pannist, Makeda, dances during their rendition of “Rebecca.”
(Courtesy Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

However, I am disappointed because it seems the American steelbands, which are mostly in schools and universities, are not interested in the TT connection. That means there’s work for us to do to establish that pan came from here and this country remains the mecca of pan. That is, you have to come here to get the best information, the best instruments, the best experience.

Wired868: What’s next?

Johnson: I have to complete the rewrite, then work with my graphic artist to complete the redesign, then send it to be printed in China. So, you see where there might be new problems.

I also have to start marketing it here. I’m hoping to get a sponsor to put a copy in every school, because our youth are generally not interested in pan, despite all the school steelbands we have. But that’s a matter for an entirely new discussion.

About Editor

Check Also

Vaneisa: A poignant wingspan of beauty and hope—the prison reform passion of Debbie and Kim

Grief was palpable in her Facebook post; a jolting reminder of the savage, indelicate and …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. totally enjoyed reading this piece. Thanks Kim #cultureliveshere

  2. I would like Dr. Kim Johnson to please contact me

  3. But didn’t he get $1,000,000 from Ansa McAl a few years ago?