“Panorama is a scapegoat; one that has no voice, and as such cannot defend itself. Is the World Cup (also a competition) “a curse or a blessing” to football? Is the Kentucky Derby ”killing” horse racing? To me, that’s just smoke-screens, and like Ninjas in the dark, those who are really killing Pan, go undetected.” ...George D. Goddard
WST - You bring a unique vantage point to the conversation as the son of George "Sonny" Goddard. More importantly you are a student of the works, thought process and goals of George Goddard. What would he be most proud of as it relates to pan if he were present today?
George D. Goddard
George D - “Firstly, thank you for the honor of being selected for this interview on WST. It is truly a humbling offer; one that would have also humbled my father. George “Sonny” Goddard had two “lives”, and most of what I learned about his professional life, I either got from other “pioneers”, or from my own research, beginning with his book, Forty Years In The Steelbands, 1949-1979. Even though he tried to keep “pan business” out of his private life, we knew when he was disturbed or thinking about the many challenges and battles “steelbandsmen” faced. To answer your question, I think my dad would have been most proud of the various pan undergraduate degree programs that allow young, locals the opportunity to earn a college education. He would be proud of young people like Iman Pascall, Leon “Foster” Thomas, Duvonne Stewart, and Shenelle Abraham, who have taken “pan music” to new and unexplored heights. He was extremely proud of Othello Mollineaux’s success in the global jazz world, and he would have been proud to see how people like Robert Greenidge and Andy Narell continue to represent the industry with decency and grace. He would have also been proud of the technological advances such as the E-Pan, although he would have preferred if its inventor, Salmon Cupid, had been given the opportunity, support and funding at home, rather than in Canada, and that the patent issues didn’t exist between the E-Pan and the P.H.I. I think he would have considered all the above-mentioned as fine examples of “ambassadors”. On the personal side, he would have been proud to have seen his book published, and that, after over 20 years, there is still an interest in it. I am not sure if he would have been proud of his posthumous national award though; knowing him, like Muhammad Ali did with his gold medal, my father may have done the same. Personally, I think he deserved (and still deserves) The Order Of The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago (formerly the Trinity Cross), and that he deserved to be awarded and honored while he was alive. Finally, I know that he would have been proud that his sons and grandkids are now among what he called “the intellectuals”. (My father’s highest school level was post-primary, and he never went to high school or college, due to being orphaned. Thanks to the Blackhead family of Cipriani Blvd., for looking after him.)”
WST - What would he be most disappointed in?
George D - “Whew! Where should I even start? He’d be most disappointed that pan has not gained the traction in the mainstream music industry that it potentially could have. For that reason, he would be extremely disappointed if we did not vote in droves to help Salmon Cupid’s steelband reach to the taping of the Canada’s Got Talent show, for he would see this as a huge opportunity to present the steelband on the world stage. Personally, he would have been most-disappointed to see what Hugh Borde and Tripoli have become. Disappointed, but not surprised. In addition to republishing my dad’s book, I also plan on writing on my years with Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band, and plan on telling the whole story, some of which will not be flattering, as it will expose facts that some would prefer to be kept latent. ”
WST - Forty Years In Steelbands 1939-1979 by George Goddard is the de facto bible of steelpan history during this period. Why did your father write this book?
George D - “In his own words, this decision was partly inspired by a conversation with a Nigerian physician, at a “social gathering”, which, in my dad’s case, usually meant there was some Johnny Walker whiskey involved. This was at the residence of a (then well-known) local attorney, who proposed a toast to George, as it was also my dad’s birthday. Later, the doctor approached him and asked if he was “Chalkdust, the calypsonian”. On learning who my dad was, the doctor replied, “…your name is synonymous with the steelband.” The question is: Why is this “bible” not a part of the sermon?”
WST - As far as you are aware is this book required reading in any steelpan music program?
George D - “No, not that I am aware of. That was my BIGGEST peeve at my alma mater, Florida Memorial University. I was extremely disappointed (and hurt) that the pan program placed no emphasis on the history of “the steelband movement”. I was personally saddened that almost every pan major had absolutely no knowledge of my dad or his contributions; contributions of which they inherited, and were the direct beneficiaries. Forget about the book; the name George “Sonny” Goddard, was never considered a topic of academic or historical significance, and I became the laughing stock of people like Michael “Big Mike” Kernahan, who once publicly ridiculed me, on campus, dismissing me as having daddy issues. I admit, I got defensive, then offensive, and I am willing to challenge ANYONE who attempts to or the value of such. I am currently interested in and seeking for funding to republish his book, under a new cover, and with more information that had been omitted from the first. I would expect ALL undergraduate programs that claim to be “pan programs”, to include, not only my dad’s book, but also provide the opportunities for myself to hold lectures and seminars at the respective college campuses. Can you imagine that as a graduate (with honors) of Florida Memorial University, as well as George’s eldest son, I have NEVER been invited back on campus by the program? FOR ANYTHING! (I attended FMU from 2004 to 2008.)”
WST - Is panorama a curse or a blessing?
George D - “Panorama is a scapegoat; one that has no voice, and as such cannot defend itself. Is the World Cup (also a competition) “a curse or a blessing” to football? Is the Kentucky Derby ”killing” horse racing? To me, that’s just smoke-screens, and like Ninjas in the dark, those who are really killing pan, go undetected. Until we accept that not everyone has pan’s best interests at heart, we will continue with debate that’s meant to distract. Even the Christ had to deal with Judas, and we should not expect the pan fraternity to be somehow immune to disloyalty or intentional chaos. We must also understand that in the sharing of our culture with the world, that we are not gullibly naïve into thinking that some may have hidden agendas that could negatively impact, or not serve in the best interests of the industry. I do think that some of the changes are killing Panorama, and that there is a drive to take it away from Trinidad & Tobago’s lumpen-proletarian (the so-called “lower-class”). Last year I was very vocal about my defense of the North Stands as a Panorama landmark, and created a Facebook page toward that effort. I was pleased to hear the announcement that the North Stand was back. Now, we must also keep in mind that “curse or blessing” depend on your vantage point. For like everything else related to the Carnival season, I am sure that the profit-seeking rich merchant, has an entirely different experience to the poor pan player or supporter, the latter both of whom better have a bucket of cold oranges to sell after they done play, or while they “jumpin’ up to a sweet chune”, for it to be considered a “blessing”. Now, even “dey little vendor hussle” seems threatened. I conclude by saying this: PANORAMA IS AN INSTITUTION! Fix it, don’t discard it. (I know we are a “throw-away” society.) ”
WST - Name two things in Pan that are totally intolerable and must change immediately?
George D - Two things that MUST change:
- The propriety and royalty rights for all pan performances must be dealt with, put into law, enforced and protected. I am tired of seeing Panorama tapes being sold on the streets of New York, and while these peddlers (most of whom probably couldn’t care less about pan) make a profit, the performers get nothing from those sales.
- The history of “the steelband movement” must be included as part of any curriculum that is pan-related. We cannot expect young players to respect the efforts of the past, if they are not aware of those efforts and how they positively impact their careers as panists/pannists. On the grassroots level, there should be literacy drives to help create a better-informed, better-educated local player. Half of the issues we face in the pan industry, like society, are based on the prevalence of illiteracy and level of education. We must be will to volunteer our time, resources and efforts, to help the
less-fortunate among our peers. In actuality, this question I attempted to address when I published the Steel Pan Blueprint For Success.
WST - What should the role be, of the Trinidad and Tobago government in - Pan?
Tobago's Redemption Sound Setters on stage
George D - “The government, in my opinion has two roles; one dedicated to the history and culture, and the other to the industries within that culture. The government has a responsibility to declare the steel drum (pan) the national instrument, and make it a custom to have steelbands or players perform (at least) our National Anthem whenever we host foreign dignitaries. There should be a pan player assigned to all our foreign embassies or consulates, working on a rotation basis. As far as the steelbands are concerned, the government’s role should be similar to the role it plays within any private industry. Start-up loans, tax breaks, etc., are some of the approaches they can use to assist bands as they become profitable and self-sustaining. I also touched on a few ideas relating to this in the “Blueprint”. What is dangerous, and cannot be expected to be in pan’s best interest, is the possibility of “politics” swaying the role the government plays, and if the pan fraternity cannot stand as an informed and united body, then the lessons of the early 70’s, will have to be revisited one more time. We must remain loyal to “the pan movement”, not politics or politicians, and be willing to act as a united front, even when that means standing up to the government. We basically need to define and have “courage”, for that is the MAIN ingredient for achieving anything that is not willingly handed to you. Finally, Pan Trinbago and the government need to end their relationship as “strange bedfellows”, and the former need to understand that they (after all) are supposed to be a “union”, that represents the worker (panist/pannist), and could efficiently or effectively never do so, by having to answer to shareholders. George understood this, and this is why he was successful, and why those under him were trusting and loyal. (Except the few “Jusases”, here and there, of course.)”
WST - What are your expectations and visions for the future of Pan?
George D - “My expectations are for things to either stay the same, or get worse (for the local player). Those are my expectations, for there is the adage: “Insanity is doing the same, but expecting different results.” Until I see the unity that the old “steelbandsmen” displayed during their struggle for social acceptance, I can hold no other logical conclusion. Many of the ideas some present, are obviously biased and self-seeking. Most have no clue about the function of Pan Trinbago (as a worker’s union), but because they have respect in their respective specialized fields within the pan industry, people assume they are great ideas. In Mike Tyson’s prime, neither of us would expect his ideas on the business of pugilism, to be considered by the boxing fraternity. But we have pan champs, who, all of a sudden are experts on “pan business”. I’m not sure if it is coincidental or ironic, but there seems to be a lot of “pandering” within the pan fraternity. My visions are pretty much the same as those of my dad, and I think that it is his visions we need to revisit. As far as my visions, again I outlined them in the “Blueprint”. In summation: my vision is for a brighter future with real opportunities, not for those who are fortunate among us, but for those who are less bestowed. The selfishness and apathy I witness within the pan fraternity, is disappointing, and I hope that, we come to that mature place where we see ourselves as “fellowman” first, and “panists/pannists” second.”
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