Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - Today I only got around to reading the following article, from a few days ago : www.guardian.co.tt/business/sunday-january-15-2012/soca-artistes-count-losses, where essentially several artistes were complaining about lack of airplay on our local radio stations.
This is not a new problem as can been seen in Table 7 of a report showing figures from 1999 (www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/studies/pdf/study_r_henry.pdf).
Back in November 2000, there was a march through Port of Spain advocating legislation to make radio stations play at least 50 per cent local music. Also taking part in the march were some of the country’s top artistes, among them Brother Resistance, Jointpop, Singing Sandra, David Rudder, Shadow and the late Mystic Prowler, the Mighty Duke and Andre Tanker. There were also representatives from the Chutney Foundation, the Parang Association, and the Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation.
The interesting angle on the recent Guardian article is that it shows so many artistes trying to get their music heard whenever local music peaks at Carnival time, but only a few artistes dominate the airwaves.
Where does all the music composed for Panorama fit in this picture? Well despite an increasing number of composers/artistes displaying their offerings for 2012 (When Steel Talks indicating about 50 songs), we know that these songs will already find difficulty to get airplay, in the environment mentioned above where songs for pan have little regard (except for WACK with specific programmes).
That is where we really have to be thankful for When Steel Talks website and Pan Radio, Facebook, You Tube, Pan Jumbie, Pan Podium and other websites which demonstrate a keen interest to keep the pan community informed, and gives us the ability to hear the music to be played a click away. Bands all over the world can now hear the music, download lead sheets, get schedules of events, hear and see previous performances.
I dare say that WST, all the Pan sites above, and some I may not know, have in fact become more than a means to get our music played. They have become a means of capturing, sometimes in real time, a part of our culture of Trinidad and Tobago, while it dies a slow death in other ways, with our music not being played, and worse, being discarded/ignored by some of the radio disc jockeys who have no connection to our music for the national instrument, calypsoes, etc. I wonder how many people who physically attend the Panorama events would know the music being played.
I think part of our problem, is that many (even some in authority over the years) do not see the value of our culture and the role it can play in forging a society integrating our instruments, music and culture in our schools to help us understand what makes us a Trini. We lack pride and knowledge of our icons who have paved the way, with more and more of our knowledge lost when there is a passing of icons, who sometimes feel neglected, or unappreciated. I think Pat Bishop understood this very well, and tried her best to keep the culture alive in so many ways. Congrats to Boogsie, GB, the Lydians, Pelham, [Archbishop of Pan], Exodus [Aunty Pat] for keeping her memory alive in such tributes in music/lyrics.
Thanks again to the tireless team at When Steel Talks, Monika at Pan Jumbie, Robbie Joseph at Pan Podium, and all other valuable websites for keeping our pan culture alive. Pan Trinbago has an opportunity also to recognize the role the internet is now playing, and to keep its website in line with what may be required for the future (one example is that 14 out of the roughly 50 new compositions for Panorama is on the Pan Trinbago website). This is unfortunate as I must confess that I submitted my music to other websites first, not realizing Pan Trinbago now had a section for new music. I think that the organization should be at the frontier of information for the global pan community, as they should possess the knowledge and linkages to make the information as real time as possible.
I am also extremely disheartened to hear about a lack of a budget for Junior Panorama at this stage, another symptom of an environment which does not appear to encourage creativity to flourish or highlight our youth for the future. But that is another topic.
Food for thought.
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