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Steel Band to Welcome Pope Benedict at El Cobre

Santiago de Cuba  - A steel band will play the “Ave María” for Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, this Tuesday, March 27.

The “Steel band” composed by 14 amateur musicians is one of the most important in the town of El cobre, located in the central part of Santiago de Cuba province. The group director, Hermes Ramírez, expressed that when the Pope arrives to the national sanctuary, the musicians will interprete Schubert´s “Ave María” and “Virgen Mambisa”, dedicated to the Virgin of Charity, patrones of Cuba. Cuban “Steel Band” was created in 1987 and since the beginning was composed by workers at the mines of copper, now closed.

This band has performed to other personalities like the Secretary of State of the Vatican, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández. According the agenda, the Pope will stay at El Cobre during his first night, the next day, he will visit the sanctuary and greet the villagers as the “pilgrim of Charity”. The villagers will gather at the steps to the Sanctuary to salute Pope Benedict XVI.

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More seriou than a judge.I was in Trinidad from Christmas thru mid January. MY 25yr old nephew who is member of the nationa steelband invited me down toi the band headquarters and told me what was happening.This young man has his bachelors degree in muic and in the pan tuners program at the university.It is sad to see the frustration he is going through I .also had a chance to speak to other members. They are all in the same boat..

In 1967, George "Sonny" Goddard wrote to Pope John Paul I, on behalf of the steelbands’ plight to be allowed to play church hymns, and subsequently receives cordial and encouraging correspondence back from the Vatican. The local Catholic Church still disapproved of pans playing hymns, and Goddard was openly criticized for his visionary move, especially by the church's parishioners. Another example of COURAGE!!! How many times have local steelbands been called on to perform Catholic hymns for the church's pontiffs? ANSWER: Never. (And this, in the "Land of Steelband...".)


Yo Ghost this is serious history.  I know you are aware of the value of those letters.


My bredren : Give thanks. In my forth coming book Who Who Dey Manicou  Dey, I have a chapter  where the drum originated and it is right there in Point at Shell Trinidad; at the  time it was called UBOT. Your comments are much appreciated. Give thanks Dr. Lance Seunarine

Good point Ghost.The idea of a Natl.Steel Orch. was Dr Williams' idea after he heard a steelband play our anthem on a trip abroad in 1963.Your dad being NATTS president inherited the spadework.Through his efforts the band was ready in 1964 and lasted until 1967.The original band was able make its first tour(to Miami) largely through donations from businessmen and private citizens .Bhadase Maraj led all donors with a whopping $436..They made two more big tours.One to the Commonwealth Arts Festival and the other to Expo '67 in Canada. A complete listing of that orchestra can be found in Kim Johnsons book(pg 147)

Kentesh, I'm not sure where you are getting your info from, but I would double-check if I were you. The idea, according to my dad (and he should know, and is a "credible" source), came back in 1958 (before the "Doc" came into power), from Dr. Patrick Solomon. The "Doc" couldn't care less about pan or "panmen", and his only ideas involved favoritism of PNM-loyal steelbands (mainly in the Port Of Spain area).  The fact remains that Dr. Eric Williams, in final analysis proved to be an enemy of the "steelband movement", and his "love" for Despers was for purely political reasons. I'm sure his emotions would have been different, had they not been PNM voters. In fact, after years of empty promises, the "steelbandsmen" had NO other choice but to march in Port Of Spain, in support of NJAC and Makandal Daaga. That march ended in Woodford Square, where my dad, George "Sonny" Goddard, got up on the platform and told the masses the TRUTH about Dr. Eric Williams. Shortly after that, naturally, Eric Williams fired him. Most of you don't even really know the politics of the PNM and Dr. Eric Williams, and I have inside information, because, not only did my dad work out of White Hall, but my maternal grandfather, De Wilton Rogers was a founding member of the People's Education Movement, which became the People's National Movement. In fact, when the education drive was already taking place in Trinidad & Tobago, Eric was not yet in the picture. This is history. Yet we credit this one person, and forget the pioneers of this education drive. Not surprising, we seem to forget all pioneers and their legacies. In the end, all who went against Eric, were gotten rid of, both in position and history; from D.W. Rogers to A.N.R. Robinson to Kamal Mohammed to George Chambers to George "Sonny" Goddard. To say that my dad "inherited" ANYTHING from Eric Williams, is a terrible inaccuracy; one that can NEVER be backed up with ANY credible evidence. Period. (And there are those who are reading this, that KNOW this to be A FACT!)

Please, please cite your sources, when making such incredible claims!!!


They have balls to steal and make sure pan players wind up broke after taking all that dew to make sure the public is entertained,God bless men like George Goddard who gave his all and asked for nothing in return.

Greetings: Don't forget that De Doc had a special love for Despers. Give thanks Dr. Lance Seunarine

The Doc had a love for music period.Despers happened to be ia major part of his constituency(Laventille-East PoS).He saw in Despers maybe what they could not see in themselves.A destiny of greatness+ achievement despite the stigma of povertyand plenty rope.He used them+they used him.The result of that bonding proved him to be absolutely right.
Ghost,I have great respect for your dad and was lucky to chat with him and benefit from his advice.The doc came back to T+T before '58.In fact in'55 he was invited by Nathaniel Crichlow ,your dads predecessor ,to aNATTS meeting where the plan was to help in revising the existing rules and to assist in drafting a new Constitution. Matters were discussed and plans were made to hold a second meeting. The Doc asked that members of GIRL PAT be invited. They were the all female steelband and my aunt played with them.At that meeting your dad brought Lennox PIerre and Bruce Procope who happened to be at other ends of the political spectrum The meeting ended right there because Williams had plans for the movement that did not include other ideologies So you are right in what you are saying.But to say that he was an enemy of pan think is overstatement.His intention as most politicians do was to gain an edge an he was certainly wise enough to see that Panmen were a force to recon with and a valuable tool to have at his disposal. I take no side and blame noone.My primary sources are family members ,your dads book. J.D elder.Albert Gomes. Kim Johnson etc.Ghost you should get yourself a copy of the latter.The author spent a lot of time discussing the Goddard-Doc relationship and the ups+ downs they had including a photo taken of them shaking hands at Queens Hall in '62 at the first organized pan music festival. I am sure that they respected each others opinions and might have even been friends were still here with us. The seventies is another story .We will get to that later.

Kentsh, thanks for sharing. I really need to get a copy of Kim's book. I am familiar with the photo, as it is also in my dad's book. I only hope we don't look at it as a Goddard-Doc relationship, because if my dad wasn't fighting on behalf of the steelband membership, there would have been no relationship to begin with. I think it was, and still is a steelband-government relationship. If it were for personal reasons, we (the Goddard family) would be filthy rich and politically powerful today. But my dad was too principled for our own financial and political good. Thanks again, Kentsh. 

Greetings Valley says that the first pan man was a Mr. Baird from Nelson Street. ASny take on this? Dr. Lance Seunarine


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