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Motown's Charm School -- a good lesson for THE PAN WORLD as I keep talking about THE TOTAL PACKAGE

For five years the gracious Maxine Powell ran the only in-house finishing school at any American record label. The petite former actress, model, manicurist, cosmetologist, and African-American finishing school-modeling agency founder was hired by Motown to help the label polish its artists’ public images.

It was Powell’s job to teach the likes of Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Tammi Terrell, The Marvelettes, The Velvelettes, and Smokey Robinson how to present themselves charmingly during interviews, performances, and off-stage public appearances. When they were in Detroit, Motown singers were required to attend two-hour session with Powell, learning public speaking, posture, walking, stage presence, etiquette, and personal grooming. Powell had studied African-American cosmetology at the renowned Madam C.J. Walker training school in Indianapolis.

When I opened up, in 1964, the finishing school, the purpose was to help the artists become class, to know what to do on stage and off stage, because they did come from humble beginnings. Some of them from the projects and some of them were using street language. Some were rude and crude, you understand, but with me, it’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going.

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Well, from my perspective, the first thing BEVERLEY should make all 7000 PAN PLAYERS in TRINIDAD do (especially DANE GULSTON) is to sit down and watch the  WILSON JEAN-BAPTISTE VIDEO and see the DIGNITY that this man brings to the stage even before he touches THE PAN.

BEDE LOPEZ just said that all the PAN PLAYERS in TRINIDAD care about is PANORAMA -- and I know that is true. But a few of them must have higher aspirations.

It is clear to me that the work that EXPATS  have done in semi-globalizing PAN MUSIC is bearing fruit. But we need more TRINIDAD REPRESENTATION on the GLOBAL STAGES. And preparing these PAN PLAYERS as a TOTAL PACKAGE is a daunting task given the competition that they are up against competing with the FOREIGN PAN STARS like WILSON and ANDY and JONATHAN SCALES and VICTOR PROVOST and TRACY THORNTON and MOLEE CRAVEN.

It is not my job to be delivering this message, but it pains me to see where this PAN TING is going around the globe and how far behind our LOCAL INVENTORS and KEEPERS of the instrument are falling.

Come on BEVERLEY!!! I know that you are obsessed with committees and you already formed at least TWENTY -- but please heed my advice and add ONE MORE that could assist PAN PLAYERS in polishing their acts for the GLOBAL STAGE!!!


I agree. This is a subject very close to my heart.  In my many places of travel I observe the behavior of band members that would make you cringe into silence.  I always hesitate from speaking out becuz it might be stepping on toes.  So, the beat goes on....  maybe one day they will wake up and smell the coffee.

Brenda H.

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