A new formula for success is emerging: bands whose arrangers write their own music. Phase II?s Len Boogsie Sharpe has always preferred this route and now on his encouragement others like Pouchet and Daniell have followed suit. 2011 will be recorded as the year of Pouchet and Daniell after Black Rock band Katzenjammers shared the medium category?s first prize with Valley Harps for their arrangement of the two men?s song, “Wake Up.”
2011, the 75th anniversary of the steel drum, has also seen TT?s first woman arranger, Michelle Huggins-Watts win a Panorama title for her arrangement of her mentor Sharpe?s song, “Do Something for Pan.” We commend her musical talent, determination and hard work, which have brought victory seven years after Huggins-Watts took Valley Harps to their first final.
Saturday night?s show was a triumphant end to a difficult Panorama season for pan players. Unforgotten are those who perished during or after practice: Wendell Francis Joseph, a panman with Courts Sound Specialists, who was gunned down in Barataria in January when he went to drop a fellow player home after rehearsal and Henry Cyrus, a founding member of Uni Stars of Laventille, killed in February when gunmen opened fire on the panyard and its players during the wee hours of the morning. Three others were injured during the drive-by, one a schoolboy of 13. The semi-final round of the competition saw North Stand music sides and rhythm sections turning the steelbands into a sideshow as they played on oblivious to the anxious pan players on stage waiting in vain for silence. The finals were also threatened when bp Renegades went to court to seek an injunction to stop the Panorama. The Charlotte Street based band argued their semi-final performance had been prejudiced by the North Stand ruckus. The court threw out their petition for injunctive relief but the substantive argument is yet to be heard. Whether the court rules for Pan Trinbago or not, pan?s governing body should ensure next year?s semis do not witness a repeat of the bacchanal and bedlam that prevailed this year. Saturday night?s show however, was as Pan Trinbago predicted an improvement on the fete atmosphere of the Savannah Party semis when police had to be summoned to stop the North Stand din.
It hasn?t been all bad news this year for the pan fraternity. Government has given an unprecedented $2million Panorama first prize and is allocating $7 million for the completion of Pan Trinbago’s headquarters in Trincity, construction of which has been delayed for several years. It is fitting that Trinidad and Tobago, the birthplace of the steel drum, contains a facility which pan can call home in a time when the steel drum continues to undergo key modern day innovations abroad. The e pan, invented in Canada can be developed in 24 hours and is now available in double seconds. Government has also announced, it plans to generate income from the steelband, a move which has been warmly received by pan players and Pan Trinbago. Pan must go far beyond Panorama.
We take this opportunity to hail other 2011 pan winners, equally worthy of mention- the San Juan East Symphony which dethroned La Horquetta Pan Groove in the Single Pan Category and Arima Golden Symphony, victors of the Small Band division. We would be remiss to forget St Fran?ois Girls who won the secondary school category in the Junior Panorama or St Margaret’s Boys’ Anglican School which scored a beaver trick in the primary school classification. Indeed we salute all pan players who sacrificed time, sleep, family and friends to selflessly give us another spectacular season of music. May 2011 see the continued celebration and development of TT?s national instrument.