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Who would have thought that the Ace Pan Tuner -- GERARD CLARKE -- would bring PAN full circle around?

GERARD CLARKE, the PAN TUNER for St. Joseph's Convent (St. Joseph), said it was good to see some of the PRESTIGE SCHOOLS involved in the EVOLUTION OF THE STEELBAND.

Now 69 -- and traveling the WORLD OVER tuning PANS -- Mr. Clarke recalled that as a student of St. Mary's college ... he faced expulsion for being involved in a STEELBAND.

Who would have thought that Naparima Girls' High School, Naparima College, St. Joseph's Convent, Fatima College, St. Mary's College and QRC would have STEELBANDS in their schools today -- Mr Clarke quizzed.

"It makes me feel good to see pan has evolved throughout the entire school system".

"We tried to form a STEELBAND in St. Mary's college in 1966. The PRINCIPAL was Father Valdez and they said that if you don't take those PANS out by tomorrow, you will all be EXPELLED."

Today, GERALD CLARKE is a pan tuner for the same St. Mary's college and he can bring his FINELY TUNED PANS into any one of these PRESTIGE SCHOOLS -- with PERMISSION from THE PRINCIPAL.

PAN continues its mystical journey in the near and far corners of the world. Thanks to devoted lifetime soldiers like GERARD CLARKE!!!

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"In the early 1960s, the socially unacceptable stigma of the steelband began to change as Whites and East Indians who were attracted to the music joined middle-class Blacks and began playing in steelbands all over the island. At the same time, young, college-educated Black men began to dispel the long-held belief that the steelband was only associated with violence. One of these pioneers was Ray Holman, a self-taught musician who not only played most instruments in the steelband, but also became an arranger for the Invaders Steelband at the young age of sixteen while a student at the prestigious Queen's Royal College (QRC). Holman's breakthrough created an opportunity for some of his college friends to follow him to Invaders. In 1961, he led a small band of QRC students (David "Splav" Waddell, Ian Jones, John "Monty" Williams, Ronald Emrit) in what was the first performance ever by a steelband at QRC. This performance was part of an evening of entertainment that, coincidentally, also showcased the acting and producing talents of another QRC student, Peter Minshall, who would go on to achieve worldwide fame as a masquerade designer/producer." (http://www.bestoftrinidad.com/steelband60s.html)

..."Who would have thought that Naparima Girls' High School, Naparima College, St. Joseph's Convent, Fatima College, St. Mary's College and QRC would have STEELBANDS in their schools today -- Mr. Clarke quizzed"

As a former Naparima College student (1958 -1962 ) I had pretty much the same reaction as Mr. Clarke when I became aware that Naparima College now had a school steelband .

Such a thing would have been unheard of in my time , though back then I proudly wore my Southern Marines t-shirt to school under my uniform white shirt.

Ironically , one of my school teachers at the time was Mr. Schofield Pilgrim (Schofie , as we called him behind his back) ,the highly respected pioneer of the calypso-jazz genre., who later taught at QRC and was involved in integrating the pan into jazz , along with the likes of a young Mr.Ray Holman.

Incidentally , I was unaware at the time of Scofie"s musical chops , as I later found out that he had been a member of a Barbadian jazz group that had  collaborated with American jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker.

Ronald, it was indeed special to be part of that first pan performance at QRC which was a fundraiser for our sports teams' tour to British Guiana that August.  The following Monday, I was walking past our principal T.V. Haines who remarked: "Jones, I didn't know that you belong to Tin Pan Alley also". My respectful response was:"Sir, QRC wants to prepare well rounded students, doesn't It?"

We would be remiss if we didn't mention QRC students like Bertie McNeil, Eddie Miles, Mervyn Hargreaves, Kenny Lynch and Lennox Alexis who, as members of Saigon and Nightingales Steelbands, preceded us into making pan more socially acceptable in Trinidad & Tobago. 

I recall Fatima College having a steelband when I taught there 1963 to 1966 OR 1973 to 1976. I am not sure of the period. Ray Holman will be able to confirm.


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