When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Did St Mary’s have the first school pan side?

The Trinidad Guardian

Silver Stars conductor Donnell Thomas known for his theatricality had patrons at Pan with the Saints intrigued by his costume for the band’s performance of music from Phantom of the OperaTrinidad and Tobago, W.I. - ....A surprising revelation was made early in the proceedings by St Mary’s Dean Enrico Rajah, one which sent pan archivists and Pan Trinbago officials searching their memories for verification.


Rajah said he had been informed the previous Thursday, by St Mary’s alumnae Ernest Ferreira, that St Mary’s College had a school steelband in 1947. Rajah added that students of St Mary’s and St Joseph’s Convent also produced a Carnival band in 1951. Rajah said the well-beaten belief that Catholic priests outlawed the playing of the national instrument by students is a myth, and that students were neither given detention or suspended for playing pan. But, a few St Mary’s alumni, who attended the College in the ‘50s, said that they were disciplined for playing in steelbands.
read more

Views: 1548

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The late Robert 'Bobby' Cave of Silver Stars was one of those students that were disciplined for playing in said 'Silver Stars' having been spotted by Father one J'ouvert morning.

In 1951 the band was named " Goldcoast" from Cocorite  went on the road for J'Ouvert with mostly St.Mary's college boys who were wearing large sombreros to hide from the priests when passing the college on Frederick street to avoid discipline from the college.

Rajah was probably not even born yet in 1947.

I believe that Clavary R.C School on Calvary Hill around Picadilly Street is the first primary school to have a steelband. This was formed around 1964 when Arthur J Cyril was the Headmaster and Martin Albino was a teacher there. He and Scotty another teacher were the instructors. The instruments were actually donated by Angostura and I believe they were sourced from Starlift who at that time were sponsored by Angostura.

 Hello Philbert Atteng : I recently saw your piece about the steelband at Calvary R.C. School, and I'm greatful for your imput; however there are some errors in your report. I am Aldwin Albino who organized the band at the school. Martin is my younger brother. I was posted to Calvary R.C. in  August,1965 after graduating from Government Training College. This was the first time that the school year in Trinidad had changed from January to July. Mr.Cyrille was my headteacher, and with his permission as well as the Rosary R.C. Church parish priest I received the green light to approach President George Goddard to obtain pans from Angostura Starlift for the project. The year was 1967, and I was also at that time the music director on Holly Betaudier's program Scouting for Talent, and as fate would have it Angostura also sponsored Scouting for Talent. Thanks again for your helpful research. Aldwin Albino.

Yes Brenda,

                     I agree with you. Students like Mr. Curtis Pierre was threatened with expulsion for seeing the pan, not as a black thing, but as an instrument. Curtis told me many years later, a priest appologized to him and said he was ahead of his time.

I am paraphasing Mr. Pierre, If their is anything like a N, them I am a white N. (lol)


For the record there was a  panside at St. Benedicts in the early 1950's

once again information on the subject of which college had the first steel band side in trinidad and tobago is WRONG.

the first college to be allowed to have a steel band side by priest was MOUNT SAINT BENEDICT. THAT WAS IN THE YEAR


CHECK HIM OUT FOR YOUR FACTS .email calypsobandit@gmail.com ph. 727-785-6824.

hello, you are wrong again.the very firest college to have a steel band allowed by priest was MOUNT SAINT BENEDICT.


CHECK HIM OUT EMAIL calypsobandit@live.com  or phone florida 727-785-6824 "bandit"

Fellas.. You can't change the facts. It is well documented in the history of the Abbey School at Mt. St. Benedict that there was a steelband in existence at the school by the name of "Mount Mariners"in 1949.   Futher more, this panside had the blessings of the Priest in charge at that time, so it wasn't that no one had to hide to play pan, these students actually had permission to play their pan. Secondly, you have the living founder of the band in the person of Mr. Dave De Castro telling you that he is the founder of the said steelband and to back it up, he has the proof in the pictures along with witnesses and other pan players in that band. I rest my case ! 

In 2012 for my Final year Thesis in UWI I did a Biography of  Mr. Nervin "Teach" Saunders a former arranger for Invaders. In my interviews with him he said that he started a steel orchestra with the  Blanchisseuse Government School, where he used to teach, together with a lady named Bernice Walker. He said this was in 1962!!. Through my research it seemed as though he was the first (documented) person to put a Steelband in a school. And he is widely accredited in the pan world as doing so. I even asked him personally if he really was the person to do so and he really wasnt sure. He said he just wanted to give the students "something that was fun to do" as he was a panist himself and that he never did it to become a "pioneer of any sought". But what he assured me of was that at the time he received a lot of opposition from a few teachers (and a few parents) because he was doing such a thing. Ofcourse we all know the bad stigma pan had at the time!! (At that time meaning well before 1962 and well after too!!). So my point is, if  what Mr Enrico Rajah is saying is true...well we need to re write the history books. And how come this hasn't been documented before??

Ken Duval son of Edwin Duval, developer of the Diego Martin lands, indicated that in 1948 he was taken to All Stars yard by Cecil Edinborough (relative of Walton and Felix) to purchase a tenor pan from Neville Jules for $3.00. Ken and Cecil then invited their CIC friends (Ernest Ferreira etc.) to form a band after they also got a "bass-kettle" and a "second-pan" in addition. They jammed for a while on the Duvals' property and then Ernest was made Captain and the band moved to the Ferreiras' yard in Corbeau Town. Ernest himself when he received the 2008 Sunshine Award in New York talked about the tenor pan bought from Jules and "painted in All Stars colours." Ferreira also talked about the transformation of this band from being a CIC-Boys band to "Boys from Iwo Jima" to "Melody Makers" and eventually to "Dixieland." Also Dr. Leroi Boldon, presently a Vet in Carlifonia, uncle of Ato Boldon, joined All Stars in 1948 at the age of 12 and was one of the witnesses to Jules' creation of his "Family of Pans" ie the Steel-Drum Orchestra. Boldon indicated that a Father Maybeen in charge of the Symphony Orchestra at CIC went to the Boldons' home to complain to Boldon's mother that her son was refusing to be part of the college's music programme and chose instead to "beat ends of dustbins." Boldon at the age of 15 became Secretary of All Stars until he left T&T in 1959.

(Extracts from "The Birth of Steel-Drum Music and the Story of Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra").

There were boys in St. Mary's College in the forties and fifties who played pan in bands like Dixieland, Silver Stars, Demboys, Boystown, Dixie Stars and Tropitones. Some of these boys were Curtis Pierre, Sello Gomes, Nick Inniss, Hugo Blaize, Lawford Dupres, Denzil Jones, Dennis Awang, Peter Quong Sing, Cecil Louis and myself. There was no steel band associated with St.Mary's College. We had to be clandestine in playing in steel bands. And yes, we were disciplined if we were caught playing with steel bands. One of my colleagues mentioned above was expelled.


© 2023   Created by When Steel Talks.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service