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Meet Curtis Pierre of Dixieland Steel Orchestra: An Original Trinidad Pan Story - UpClose!

An exclusive Von Martin interview with Mr. Curtis Pierre of Dixieland Steel Orchestra, one of the first 'college boy' steel orchestras in Trinidad and Tobago. Hear in his own words, Curtis Pierre's story, in Martin's interview.

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Thanks Von and Curtis.

Really love hearing all these stories of Pan back in the day. The trials, the successes, and more importantly, the history.

Great interview guys! Curtis, it's a great pleasure and honor knowing you, and it's a blessing being engaged to your grand-daughter :)

 

Good job Von!

Cecil: Please come and say something about this brilliant interview with Curtis Pierre. Pan history straight from the horse's mouth. Well-spoken, good vocabulary and humble!!! But he concluded by saying that the PAN MAN is still too dumb to know that he is dumb ("false pride and downright stupidity"). And I know that you are a big big supporter of the PAN MAN.

Yes Claude! how yuh?? Our original culture was never glorified. Yet it shows we were moving towards a collective identity.  Since we are not  educating people about their history.in this age of mediocrity,  Trinis in general take up the surface of things and move with it. Steel band (Pan) appeared in full in May 1945. It was the first time I think players were not persecuted. (an dey tumble down an dey turn around). Yet Pan month was decided upon as August. Yuh just have to live long enough like me.

Thanks for that interview with Mr. Curtis Pierre of DIXIELAND Steel Orchestra, very informative. 

I'm glad that Curtis shared some of his story with us. However he has more to tell about the period between !950 when Dixieland first came on the road and 1960 when they won the festival. I'll leave it to him to fill in the blanks, if he will, but it better be soon as the survivors who can remember anything are getting scarce.

Yes! Curtis Pierre was ahead of the times. In 2007, I wanted to meet him, and without hesitation he invited me to his home in Diego Martin. I never knew that he and others were threatened with expulsion from college. He also told me that many years later one of the priests who was anti pan admitted to him that they were wrong. Curtis also said that after leaving school, he was threatened by his job if he did not attend work one J'Ouvert morning, so he led the band pass his employer proudly beating an iron. Of course, he was fired (lol). I also leaned that Dixieland was the first Steel Orchestra to visit the African Continent in 1962. 

Ian, where is the proof that "Dixieland was the first Steel Orchestra to visit the African Continent in 1962"? Please provide the reliable (primary) source of that. Thanks. According to my records, it was April, 1966, that Despers took pan to Africa for the first time, joining dancers Julia Edwards and Gloria Boodhoo, the Mighty Terror, and (then) Sgt. Scott, the Police band master, among others. The manager was Mr. Melville Robin, and George "Sonny" Goddard, also took the trip as Mr. Robin's adviser. This was at Dakar, Senegal, at the First Festival of Negro Arts. PLEASE direct us to the proof of your claim, and I will be happy to update my records to reflect that Dixieland took pan to Africa in 1962. (Any newspaper microfilm to support this?) Thanks, colleague.

GHOST

I am disappointed that Mr. Curtis Pierre forgot to mention his firearms charge in the UK. The local newspapers covered that story and the support he received from NATTS, led by their President, George "Sonny" Goddard. Under Goddard's leadership, the Association appealed to Sir Learie Constantine, and Goddard is quoted as defending Pierre, saying, "I have reasons to believe that he is innocent...I have known (him) quite well over the past twelve years and I always considered him as one of the most decent, honest and broadminded steelbandsman (sic) I have ever known. Colour of skin and position in life play no part with Curtis." Goddard also led a delegation to meet with (then) Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams, to "discuss...among other things, the plight of Curtis Pierre". (See Evening News, December 24, 1962, p. 3. Also, Trinidad Guardian, January 6, 1963, p. 1.) My question is: If Dixieland went to Africa in 1962 as per Ian's claim, then where are the newspapers reports of this alleged inaugural visit? I understand that having a "criminal record" is nothing to boast about, and that may be why Mr. Pierre declined to comment on the overwhelming and loyal support he received from Goddard and his administration. (Are there ANY OTHER documented cases of the association (any of them) coming to the aid of ANY panman or panwoman who were facing legal issues?) So, again, HISTORY records the kind of leader my dad was, and the kind of leadership that has been missing ever since he left office. And that is why I say without any hesitance that GEORGE "SONNY" GODDARD WAS THE GREATEST LEADER OF THE STEELBAND MOVEMENT! (And please, if you disagree, do so with facts, not emotion.) 

GHOST - Who Knows That Curtis Pierre Knows These Facts. Ask him.

BTW - Curtis Pierre was eventually convicted of the firearms charge. (See, Forty Years In The Steelbands, 1939-1979, by           George "Sonny" Goddard.)

REMEMBER: "History is going to be kind to (us), because we are the ones going to write it." Winston Churchill.

Here is an article supporting the DIXIELAND visit to Africa ...

http://www.guardian.co.tt/entertainment/2011/07/21/steelband-legend...

Thanks for the "secondary source", Claude. Now can you direct me to a "primary source", like an article from 1961 that reported on that Dixieland visit to Africa. As a historian, I cannot go by this Guardian article, as it amounts to no more than heresy, and does not name the writer of the article, nor his "primary sources". Maybe, I'm too "college educated", but that's the only way I know how to accept information as being credible, i.e. by going to the "primary sources", and not simply relying on editorials from anonymous writers who fail to provide the evidence of their claims. Further, NO WHERE in the interview, does Curtis Pierre EVER mention this claim to be factual. Are there any existing members that can provide photos or any other tangible evidence. Please, DO NOT get me wrong; I'm not saying that it is not true. I am asking for the EVIDENCE! Once in hand, then I'll accept it as being true. Thanks, colleague.

GHOST.

WHY would he mention anything about firearm charges??? This is an interview about Dixieland and what Mr. Pierre contributed, his recollection of how the band was formed, how they developed, and the overall Pan movement back in those times.

 

This interview is NOT about George Goddard, or anyone else.

 

You are disappointed that he, Curtis Pierre, forgot to mention his firearm charges????? Hahahahaha, what a silly, out of place, comment and reply. This is what you choose to bring up?? Can you not appreciate a good history lesson on a steelband and the steelpan movement? What do firearm charges have to do with that?

 

You got the newspaper article that you asked for, hope you learned something new.

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