André White makes History with ‘Heat’
and ADLIB Steel Orchestra
- History, history, history! And probably as never before
in any steelband music panorama around the world.
History was made in New York with the release of the
York Panorama results in the early hours of the last day
Colleen White, mother of winning steelband
music arranger André White, stood shyly by with people
surrounding her, tears of joy streaming down her face as
the euphoric celebration erupted on the stage after
1:00 a.m. when the 2008 New York Panorama ended -
triumphantly for ADLIB Steel Orchestra
which hails from Long
Island, New York. André’s grandmother Maureen
White was alternately dancing around and
pausing for photographs with ecstatic co-celebrants.
Mom and Grandmom, of course, are André’s biggest
supporters and fans.
from left to right - ADLIB’s Lisa Mayers [in
hat], mom Colleen, André, and grandmother Maureen).
All the while, André was being hoisted above the
shoulders of his band ADLIB, put down again, seized for
hugs and kisses, had microphones thrust in his face for
comments, grabbed for pictures, handshakes, and sought
out for autographs. As both digital and cell phone
cameras flashed at and around him, other band members
called friends and family,
crying and screaming through their phones at the same
time “We Win!”
Why the euphoria, tears, and more, one may ask?
Well - this was no ordinary victory. You see, the
sensational winning steelband arranger who now lays claim to the
same championship title as coveted and won by other renowned arrangers in the New
York steelband panorama arena - such as Denzel Botus and
Scipio Sargeant, Arddin Herbert, the late
Clive Bradley, Yohan Popwell and others - is a mere
teenager. André is all of eighteen years old as of May 26 this
year. The talented teen who is realizing his
potential, trounced tested
arrangers such as Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore, Arddin
Herbert, Yohan Popwell, Keith Roberts, Pelham Goddard
and Eddison Quarless to have
ADLIB crowned the championship steel orchestra for 2008.
It should be noted that in Trinidad and Tobago, there is
the annual junior panorama where arrangers can be as
young as André, but the difference is that they compete
against their relatively aged peers. In New York,
André competes with the regular ‘big guns’ arrangers -
all of whom are old enough to be his father, or
Additionally, ADLIB Steel Orchestra, who took
the stage with around ninety musicians this year, has
never before won a New York Panorama. The closest
they came was back in 2001 when they placed third, with
then-arranger Ruben Nelson, and again last year in 2007
when they executed André’s arrangement of Band in
Space written by Amrit Samaroo. Samaroo and
White have struck up quite a musical relationship - with
André playing in Renegades Steel Orchestra in Trinidad
and Tobago’s 2008 panorama where Samaroo arranged - and
André again selected Samaroo’s music for ADLIB’s 2008
panorama appearance, a track called Heat.
André White is one of those people who ‘lives, eats, sleeps
and breathes’ the steelpan instrument family and the music produced - literally. He is one of many
youngsters who grew up with ADLIB which he joined at age
six. And in André’s
case, there was a time when he could barely reach the
steelpan instrument he was playing at the
time. André has always been avid about steelband
music, and was formally introduced as ADLIB’s arranger
back in 2006 at age fifteen. He had already,
though, contributed much to arranging for the orchestra
- featuring his own band mates - for a considerable
period before that time.
André returned from England one week ago,
having scored what was probably another first -
being the youngest arranger for England’s Mangrove Steel
Orchestra which was awarded sixth place in
London’s 31st Annual panorama competition. The brilliant
young musician manages his time exceptionally well.
He had returned to England for the second time on August
17 in final preparation - but - had already completed
ADLIB’s arrangement for the New York panorama.
And that task was finished before
he even initially set foot in London to arrange for Mangrove Steel
André unhesitatingly and continuously acknowledges the
support of the Mayers family, affectionately known as
‘Uncle Frank and Auntie Jean’ and their daughter Lisa,
who have been major influences in his life ever since
he became part of the extended ADLIB family. In
fact Franklin Mayers urged André to accept what, at his
young age, was the fantastic opportunity to arrange for
one of England’s veteran and premier steel orchestras.
But this almost fairytale summer, and its ending with the
New York panorama championship was also due to the unstinting support of
his band ADLIB, its stageside representation who
interpreted then passed on his musical ideas and
second player Kerneil Wells who drilled the orchestra
and took it unrelentingly through its paces, and double
tenor player Lashera Smith who was right there alongside
Kerneil; both these youngsters are between eighteen and
nineteen years of age.
J’Ouvert celebration features various steelbands on the road in
Brooklyn, New York as a prelude to the Labor Day
celebrations on Eastern Parkway. The scaled-down
representation of ADLIB Steel Orchestra is just one of
the steelbands that hundreds of people will be jumping and
chipping to on J’Ouvert Monday morning less than twenty-four hours from now.
And ADLIB’s “tune for the road” will be one that André himself
would have put together for the band on Sunday afternoon
into evening time, shortly before he heads off to
school. Yes, he begins his first
year of college at the prestigious Berklee College of
Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He follows in the footsteps of
the Thwaites brothers - Sherwin, Shawn and now Sheldon
in attending Berklee, and will also have as company
another ace New York all-round musician - Iman Pascall
- who has been accepted to Berklee in her third year of
Back in 2006, and even prior,
Steel Talks has been consistent in drawing
attention to young André
White as a music talent to watch, and predicted great things for
him and ADLIB.
The future of pan is indeed in very good - and young - hands,
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