The Canberra Times
Canberra, Australia - Is there anything more evocative or atmospheric than the steel drums? You can almost hear the ocean waves and feel the sun on your skin.
Well, there's no more of that soundtrack to tropical paradise at the Wanniassa shops - it's been silenced.
....Canberra musician Courtney Leiba is a familiar sight at the shops, busking there for at least 20 years, back when the supermarket was a Shop Rite.
....Turning 80 next year, Mr Leiba, originally from the West Indies, has over the course of his career, toured with Liberace and been nominated for a Grammy when playing with the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band.
What a crying shame... :-(
This is a very sad but real story. More importantly, it should be a wake-up call to pan players in “foreign lands.” You cannot depend on Pan Trinbago, the World Governing Body for the Steelpan,” or Panorama, to survive as musicians. You have to “adjust to the environment.” Join musician unions, art councils, form non-profit tax-exempt organizations, etc.
Recently I angered a producer for not wanting to play while people were entering the venue for a show. I stand firm. If there’s a program, and you want to use my band, then we want to be on the program, not entertain people as they enter the venue.
I think it is very sad that today pan players have to play on street corners, etc. for donations from passers-by. That is my personal bias. I represent the National Instrument proudly. 'Nuff said!
Mr Leiba, open a school!
Why is there no solidarity at the very bottom of this mad money making machine?? Just one day without buying anything and they will pay Courtney Leiba for playing there.
Remenber: "Alle Räder stehen still, wenn dein starker Arm es will." ("All wheels stand still, if your strong arm will.")
I was never in favor of pan playing in subways and street corners ect. Our band Caribbean Extravaganza has been performing outside of T&T since the late sixties and never once did we adhere to that, hell we never even put out a tip jar in any of our performances in all these yrs.When I see what pan can do with bands like Despers, Panam North Stars, All Stars, Silver Stars ect I marvel at the out come and wonder why are we limited to a side show, and then I figured it out.. For every product most important is marketing,knowing where and who they are then target them. We in T&T have a tendency to aim at ourselves but we do not purchase enough to satisfy or support the market..If Courtney were playing another instrument whether exotic or conventional.the results would've been the same but that's no place to introduce an instrument that has potentials like pan..Now the solution, very simple folks, most conventional instruments were introduced to the public by performers, the more popular the artist the more exposure. The sitar introduced by Lata Mangishka suddenly rose to fame and was featured in many Indian hits..We have mega trini stars like Niki Minaj and Machelle who could get us into Bet and all the major American networks but its not happening. Bob Marley has reggae music much more popular than calypso/soca and as we all know its lyrics are in no way in comparison but which is more popular? Marley was aided by Johnny Nash,"I can see clearly" and the Jamaican Government, Bustamante..On the other hand pan got a boost from The group called Chicago and Grover Washington who wisely featured Robert Greenidge in " just the two of us",,Just imagine Niki Minaj featuring a full fledged Despers stage side as an opening act with her popularity with hip hop and she can do a mean reagae or soca backed by the all versatile steelband, tell me how could that fail in a talent starved market like we have today? The emerging "Codringtons steel orchestra" has the capability of entertaining any venue from night clubs to Carnegie Hall but they need the proper introduction and opportunity to prove themselves as the international professional artists they are..Maybe we can learn something from Donald Trump about starting a movement to make ourselves heard, er without the horror attachment of course..Seriously, though we need to do something to avoid situations like Courtney fighting a lone battle when there's so much help available...