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Pioneer Tuner Anthony Williams to receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from the University of the West Indies

At last!

Congratulations to Pioneer Tuner Anthony Williams who will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Letters -DLitt) by the UWI at its Graduation Ceremonies in October 2016!

A partial citation is given on the UWI Today page at UWI Today:

Mr Anthony Williams – DLitt

Mr Anthony Williams is, perhaps, the most significant contributor to the development of the technology of the steelpan musical instrument and the associated art in performance, because of his triple role as an inventor, arranger, and steel orchestra captain.

In the 1950s, Mr Williams invented the 4ths-and-5ths note layout pattern, now standard on the tenor steelpan and the basis of the note layouts on three of the four G-pans invented at The UWI in 2007. The pattern was first used on his spiderweb pan, which he tuned so that the anti-clockwise sequence of notes around any given ring, assumes a progression of musical 5ths while the note sequence along a sector defined by two adjacent radii produces a progression of musical octaves.

His inventions were all music-driven and came during his tenure as captain, musical director and tuner of the Pan Am North Stars Steel Orchestra. This steelband was the first to appear on US nationwide television (the Ed Sullivan show in 1964); the first to transpose music for symphonic orchestras into steelband scores (Johann Strauss’s Voices of Spring in the 1962 Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival) which set the template for steelband arrangements for years to come.  

In 1968 Pan Am North Stars joined with Trinidad and Tobago’s internationally celebrated pianist, Winifred Atwell, in a series of performances locally, in the Bahamas and at Madison Square Garden in New York. By placing bass pans on wheels, he made it possible for the road band to remain mobile and perform full orchestral arrangements.

Six decades ago he was emphasizing the importance of music literacy for all pannists and, though self-taught, established classes in his North Stars panyard. In recognition of his experience and competence, Mr Williams was made a member of the first steelpan technology research team at the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute. He has been recognised by the National Institute of Higher Education Research Science and Technology (NIHERST) as a Caribbean Icon and was awarded the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the nation’s highest award in 2008. 

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Comment by Cecil hinkson on September 13, 2016 at 12:49pm

Congratulations to Mr Williams.

Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on September 13, 2016 at 10:04am

This honor is indeed long overdue.

Apart from his success as a tuner and inventor , he was also an outstanding arranger and bandleader , and his concept of the sound of steelband music has affected the art-form for generations.

History will record  the future Dr. Anthony Williams as one of the most important , innovative and influential pioneers of the art-form that we love.

Much respect for this great steelband pioneer.

Comment by Robert Saldenha on September 12, 2016 at 5:13pm

Long overdue........I was wondering if he would have been around to hear the good news.

Thanks Dr. Copeland as I have a strong suspicion that you, Keith Maynard and others had a hand in this.

Comment by Salah Wilson on September 5, 2016 at 3:02pm

Well done Dr. Copeland ....is is indeed due time

Comment by Kent Lampley on September 5, 2016 at 12:35pm

I met tony Williams in 1966 when pan am, north stars came to Guyana ,I played with the texicans steel band we performed at a dance in Georgetown he is one of the best I am happy for you DR Williams pan man ken lampley.        

Comment by masai hall on September 4, 2016 at 8:48pm

Once again!  Honor the man: Rename Bombay street; Anthony Williams Blvd. Do it now T&T.

Comment by Jennifer Ire on September 4, 2016 at 1:59pm

Finally! Congratulations most magnificent musician Dr Williams. How wonderful it could have been to have this honour bestowed upon you in the amazing days of your youth; and then allow you to impart your creative genius  via  the same university and other avenues for the benefit of our steelpan. I hope that someone has been collecting your memoirs and writing the history that you inspired and began. Congratulations and thank you.

Comment by Mercer Ramdoo on September 4, 2016 at 12:55pm
It's past time, but, it's about time. Congrats Dr. Williams.

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