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The Steelpan – From Our Small Island To The Middle East - Have we dropped the ball in promoting the steelpan on a global scale? Do you think it is appreciated more by other countries?

Author - Hadassah Charles-McLeod

What we know…

Caribbean Vybez International is an entertainment company based in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.).  For more than 7 years, they have been a pioneer in promoting Caribbean culture in that region of the world. Recently they signed a deal with Michael Gabriel and Allan Poteon, leading pannists originally from Trinidad and Tobago. Now based in Boston and Germany respectively, both men have been spreading our local culture to various countries around the globe. They will be moving to Dubai next month to execute the next phase in the promotion of Caribbean culture through steelpan education and development.

Caribbean Vybez International intends to host a series of workshops geared towards teaching the art of steelpan, building and producing new instruments to be exported around the world and providing entertainment to hotels, restaurants, beach clubs and more.

Dubai and the rest of the Middle East will now enjoy the sweet sounds of steelpan and be transported to the Caribbean through this beautiful instrument.

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Have we dropped the ball in PROMOTING the steelpan on a GLOBAL SCALE?

They need EXPATS like SALAH WILSON and GLENROY JOSEPH and BUGS and WAYNE CEZAIR (He went back already -- I think) and CECIL HINKSON and LYNETTE LAVEAU and others of that ilk to return to TRINIDAD and set up independent companies to ratchet up the GLOBAL EXPANSION OF PAN.

(Take half of the millions wasted on STEELPAN TRINBAGO and invest it in projects under some of these EXPATS. And Let Keith Diaz borrow another $20,000,000 and hand it over to the right EXPATS.)

Trinidadians who live in Trinidad have never seen the other side of the coin so they will never be able to do it. They cannot even make the team much less getting the ball handed to them to run with it -- to have the opportunity to drop it.

All these EXPATS who come on this forum and talk about how much they LOVE THE PAN have a personal responsibility to go back home and offer their knowledge gained from having seen both sides of the coin. Even among this group there is a very miniscule number who could actually contribute because of the COMPLEXITY of view needed and the requisite ADMINISTRATIVE SKILLS.

Until we bridge that LOCALS working with EXPATS gap -- a man in U.A.E. will do ah little thing and a man in Australia will do a little thing and a man in Noway will do a little thing and they will send a video (of some street performance) or get a little story back to the faithful and everybody will be so impressed -- like the comments at the bottom of the article.

But PAN could go WAY BEYOND THAT with the right diplomacy and marketing and music directors and disciplined players and root organizations based in Trinidad.

They should send some worthwhile culture promoters from Trinidad to interview Emile Straker before he dies. He has all the insights and the methodology and the channels and the L-I-V-E  E-X-P-E-R-I-E-N-C-E; and he saw the mountain top at a very early age and with only a fleeting glance.

Yes....it is appreciated more by other countries.

Yes, Trinidad and Tobago have definitely dropped the ball here.  For example what is the Minister of Tourism doing to promote pan overseas?

Having visited and performed in 31 countries with Melodians Steel Orchestra UK, and seeing the impact on the locals I can definitely say that the Pan is appreciated more outside of T & T. Most of our engagements are performances for the British Embassies in countries as diverse a North Korea; Russia; Sri Lanka to name a few.

The ambassadors always proudly introduce us as "The steelband part of British culture".

To those who are interested have a look at our website www.melodiansuk.co.uk especially our youtube page and check out our 30 years anniversary documentary

Terry Noel MBE JP

Leader Melodians Steel Orchestra UK.

Terrance: I would like to hear more details on how your tours actually work. Like the actual events you play for!!! And do you do other performances in the country (visited) beside the British Embassy. Typically: who attends the functions at the British Embassy, how big are the gatherings. what are the typical purposes of the events.

Give me the LONG STORY!!! Even the selection process in England!!!

Funny as it may seem, they can promote the steelband by having a strong showing on the road for carnival. Organize a Steelband Street Party carnival Monday. let the world see how we do it with the steelband in the Mecca. Is there a better way?

The BIG QUESTION is: Who is the "THEY" you are referring to?

Lennox Jordan (Mad man son from Tunapuna) Pan tuner, make steel drums and teaches for the military force in Oman. This group came to Australia to play in our First Steel band Festival. Lennox goes there once a year to tune and arranged music. Australia are now going to play in the first New Zealand steel band Festival in February 2018.

Dey will have to learn party music ,Cecil.

,You eh know dey really prefer  to play classics and music for we old people , instead of party music for youths?

This is not news to me. My pan tuner and friend Ronald Matthews has been doing workshops  and training in Dubai and the Emirates for the past 4 years. He has gone to Mexico as recently as last September to hold concerts, conduct workshops and training. But it is good that more people are getting in the fray. This augurs well 4 the future.

I read the input of my friend from Melodians U K' He probably won't remember me but I met him some years ago through deceased Leslie Bernard, Melodians T T  tuner. I said that on this forum a while ago. The British promote pan as British culture brought by immigrants. That is exactly what Terrance has just said.You'll find that same posture in most of the countries where we have introduced our instrument , they loathe having to give T T  credit.

We dropped the ball big time we are teaching people to play but are we teaching them others aspects of it like pan making and arranging no. NY for example few so much trini pan man and other countries but maybe 5 people can actually make a pan, why arent the elders teaching people to make pans 


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