“we will just have to dust off our pants, pick ourselves up off the ground and come back stronger...” Desperadoes player
In a Panorama season full of intrigue, surprises and unknown territory rife with land mines and few certainties - we find ourselves in a very special place. It is the morning after the semi-final 2012 Panorama competition. Moreover, it is the moment in this enclave where we, When Steel Talks, are normally busy analyzing and writing about who is in and who is out - who made it and by how much and of course what transpired. This year ironically on the day after the Super Bowl, we will leave that to the Monday morning quarterbacks - the Trinidad and Tobago national papers, pundits and self-appointed Panorama music experts. Hey, we all think we’re experts when it comes to Panorama music.
No doubt the unexpected exit of Desperadoes from the competition is the main talking point. However, today we shift focus. In the middle of this rank musical war and high emotion of the premiere steelpan music competition, Panorama - we found this instance of great learning, commitment, humility and courage. Moreover, we found out what it means to be a true “Desperado.”
On the semi-final stage with the young and talented Andre White, as he made his debut as arranger of the legendary Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, was none other that the great Robert Greenidge, steelpan virtuoso and past champion panorama arranger of the band. Front and center he stood behind a tenor - waiting, waiting, for the count to start. Robert Greenidge displayed an inordinate amount of support, grace and wisdom with his physical presence. He placed the sanctity and name of the Desperadoes franchise above any personal concerns. Rudolph Charles and the late Clive Bradley would be extremely proud of Robert Greenidge. Rudolph - for Robert being a true leader, and Bradley because of Robert’s support of youth. In hindsight Robert Greenidge was one of the few truly prepared for, and committed to, the success of Andre White.
If Andre is as good as we think he is going to be this will be just a hiccup in the road - he will not be stopped. Whether he goes on to becoming one of the all-time greats or just another footnote of the many ‘also-ran’ is insignificant at this moment. The greatest lesson Andre learned was the one the great Robert Greenidge provided, by being on that stage with him.
Ralph MacDonald described Robert Greenidge to When Steel Talks, speaking of Robert as a fierce warrior who goes into a higher gear during Panorama. Losing is not part of his vocabulary - but with his unwavering public support of Andre White, Robert displayed the intelligence and grace of another legendary steel band leader, Neville Jules.
Youth will be served and it cannot be denied. Moreover, every generation must speak in its own voice - be it music, song, language, art - whatever. This is sometimes disconcerting to the more mature generation. However, anyone who doesn’t understand this is in denial. Just check out Ray Holman as the youth in Invaders, or Len “Boogsie” Sharpe as the youth in Starlift Steel Orchestra. In a reflective moment with When Steel Talks, Ray talked about how his youthful musical expectations role may have impacted on the future fortunes of the Ellie Mannette-led Invaders Steel Orchestra, and likewise, how the actions of a youthful Len “Boogsie” Sharpe impacted on the fortunes of the Ray Holman-lead Starlift Steel Orchestra.
On a day when all the double-talkers, double-crossers, second-guessers and haters can all come out now, and blow their horns until their belly swell, or until next Panorama - history will show it was the great Robert Greenidge (and other like-minded individuals) who had the presence of mind to conduct himself in a manner that will ultimately preserve and ensure the legacy of Desperadoes. Just ask Neville Jules, Ellie Mannette, Ray Holman, Clive Bradley, Rudolph Charles, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe—and even Robert himself—who like Andre White, were at one point, each deemed to have been too young, not ready - and not “the one.”
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