Trinidad & Tobago
PANMEDIA FEATURES):- His preferred drink is rum and coke, though he sips a beer in the pan tent this particular night. Standing a slight five feet three inches in sandals, he peers through round, brown glasses. Cigarette smoke punctuates every word of his flat, nearly monotone voice. And while he engages in lively repartee with band members, he does not tolerate skylarking. "You are losing concentration," he warns an embarrassed double second pan player.
It's now abundantly clear that Clive Bradley takes his music seriously. At 46, he is the only winner of four Panorama championships and believes he was robbed of three others. Perhaps as much as anyone else, Bradley is responsible for Desperadoes supremacy among steelbands today.
Yet, there is no arrogance, no boastfulness, just the quiet confidence from a competitive edge secured. "When you have been doing this as long as I have," he tells a writer in Brooklyn, New York, "you figure out the formula". But 14 years after Desperadoes lured him up "the Hill" to arrange "Mr. Walker," steelband music may lose his abundant talent to high technology.
A month ago, Bradley graduated from New York's Technical Careers Institute where he studied computer design and digital technology. The creative promises of this technology in the recording studio excites his musician mind. Wider career choices and the promises of a long elusive lucrative career now seem possible. "I have never been committed to one career path," says Bradley.
At various times, Bradley has been a shoemaker helper, a projects worker (before it found the fashionable DEWD acronym), an accounting clerk, an advertising copywriter and a radio show host. Teaching however, is what he did longest and the job that shaped his personality most. " My grandmother always believed teaching was the most respectable profession," he says.
Music was another story: no more than a scrunting sideline. But Bradley was a hot new musician with plenty of ideas. "Clive was always respected as a professional," says Janice Ford, a promotions officer at the Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Board in New York. As a singer with the then popular Esquires Now Combo in the early 1970's, she worked with Bradley when he was the band's arranger. "He was always clear about what he was doing," Ford remembers.
Had Bradley not been around in the early 1970's, many Trinidad entertainers would have been scrunting for hits. He boosted Mighty Duke into calypso stardom as his arranger for the four years Duke won the calypso crown. As a dance band, Esquires exploded under Bradley's direction, and he kept Kitchener in constant contention for Road March honours.
Bradley's search for excellence began at an early age. He topped his class in mathematics at Diego Martin Boys R.C., and won a Simplex Time Recorder scholarship to Fatima. When he left the hallowed Mucurapo hails, Bradley returned to his old elementary school as a teacher before heading off to Teacher's Training College (TTC). Later TTC hired him as an instructor, an unheard of honour for someone without a bachelor's degree.
Given his professional background, it's no surprise that some people may have looked askance when Bradley first trekked up "the Hill". "I never thought of myself as part of the Desperadoes community", Bradley admits. "I was always hired to do a job. That was all. I have never played a pan in my life," Bradley told the "Guardian". I am not sure I know how to hold the sticks". (He sometimes uses a melodica when he arranges).
Bradley said of Panorama, it's a ridiculous exercise, it has everywhere to go because it has been nowhere.