Men in Steel

Meet Nevin Roach - Executive Producer of PanoGrama, Entrepreneur, Visionary and Panist

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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“The feedback was amazing! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the competition from start to finish. People loved the production, the engaging nature of the show, the live performances from soca artistes and other acts among many other things. I spent weeks post-event going through congratulatory messages across my social media pages. Positive feedback keeps coming in to this day.” –– Nevin Roach

Indeed, the old proverb that states "necessity is the mother of invention" rings true, as the global steelband music community - through innovation and technological advances - tries to lessen the negative impact of and navigate through, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently concluded "PanoGrama" produced by Nevin Roach is one such very successful effort.

In a When Steel Talks exclusive - executive producer, entrepreneur and panist Nevin Roach shares his steelpan  music vision and how his "I can do this" attitude has served him and the steelpan community very well.

WST - “Tell us about Nevin Roach?”

Nevin Roach
Nevin Roach

Nevin R. - “I'm an outgoing individual who can be quite a character at times because I love to have fun, laugh and smile. I grew up on the beautiful island of Tobago but currently reside in Barbados. I have a passion for sports, music, adventure and traveling, among other things. A man of many talents.”

WST - “When and how did you first become aware of the steelpan instrument?”

Nevin R. - “From a young age I used to see bands in Tobago playing on the road during Carnival. However, it wasn't until around 14 when I had my first real encounter with the steelpan, satisfying my curiosity by exploring a steelpan my sister had brought home for her to practice on. I eventually played in the T&T National Panorama after which I was fortunate to receive travel opportunities throughout the Caribbean to play in other Panoramas.”

WST - “Do you also improvise, or arrange?”

Nevin R. - “Nope. Neither one.”

WST - “Do you prefer any specific genre of music on Pan?”

Nevin R. - “With the amount of sweetness that emanates from a steelpan, I could almost get diabetes listening to any genre played on it. I have no preference.”

WST - “Outside Panorama, what are your musical interests?”

Nevin R. - “I have a passion for development. I have worked with kids to introduce them to the steelpan and outside of that, I attempted to get steelpan started at UWI (University of the West Indies) Cave Hill, as well as tried to start an organisation that focuses solely on developing the artform here in Barbados, both unsuccessfully. I might just re-look my failed attempts and try again.”


Nevin Roach
Nevin Roach

WST - “What is your most memorable experience in Pan?”

Nevin R. - “There are so many memorable experiences in steelpan for me. One of them is participating in my very first senior T&T National Panorama with Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra in 2006. Traveling to Trinidad, moving racks from the port to the savannah and soaking up the vybe on the drag was all nothing short of amazing. Another standout experience I would mention is playing an integral role in Bishop's High School Steel Orchestra's (Tobago) first Tobago House of Assembly Junior Panorama, placing 3rd. We had to borrow racks from Dixieland and we were fortunate to get support from other students to have sufficient numbers, all to make it happen.”

WST - “Initially, what was the general opinion of your family, friends and community, regarding your involvement in and love for, the steelband art form in your early days? Did you always have their support?”

Nevin R. - “Music runs in my family so the encouragement and support came naturally when I discovered my passion for steelpan.”

WST - “Which player most represents your approach to the business of music and pan? [Michael] Jordan, Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James]? And how so?”

Nevin R. - “What I would say is, Music? Pan? Very serious business and I treat it as such.”

WST - “What made you decide to produce PanoGrama?”

Nevin R. - “The idea to host a steelpan competition hit me randomly while I was watching a live on Instagram. I thought my idea was great and timely considering that we were all on lockdown as a result of COVID-19. My main goals with the competition were to provide a source of entertainment, to provide a platform for musicians to showcase their talent as well as to create opportunities to earn some money. I knew it was a potential hit so I also wanted to make a contribution to charity and be able to help panists in some way. All goals were achieved. I was especially pleased with being able to make a sizable donation to Pan Trinbago's Social Prosperity fund (donate here: thanks to the kind contributions from PanoGrama viewers and supporters.”

WST - “How long did it take to plan?”

Nevin R. - “About 10 days.”

Nevin Roach
Nevin Roach with Uptown Fascinators Steel Orchestra

WST - “Who were some of the people behind the scenes?”

Nevin R. - “David 'Zige' Walcott, Ojay Richards and Kenneth Joseph were some of the firsts I reached out to and they contributed more than just being typical routine judges. My family supported and encouraged me as always. Vincentian Chad Smith dealt with the graphics. Experienced promoter and stage manager Michael 'Zeek' Rogers and the Penthouse 2.0 crew. Jaydene Thomas, Ronica Gordon and other friends. Duvone Stewart. These are just a few. A lot of people helped in one way or the other and I am grateful. Special thanks to the sponsors as well: Pan Trinbago, United States Steelband Association, E-Pan, #1 Steelpan App GOLD, Steelpan Tutor, LCA Designs Tobago, Stickland Pansticks, Panman Consultants and Run246. Eternally grateful to all the musicians and everyone who supported.”

WST - “What technical challenges did you face?”

Nevin R. - “There were connectivity issues at times that were out of my control. The audio also wasn't the best in the initial stages but improvements were made as the competition progressed.”

WST - “How many people tuned in over the course of the event?”

Nevin R. - “Based on @inev88 Instagram account insights, there were well over 12,000 visits to my profile during the event. The viewership increased from 600 peak-live viewers (maximum number of viewers on the live at the same time) for prelims to over 1000 for finals. Considering that some people would have popped on and off the live, I could only imagine what the full viewership was. The event was a hit! I have since started the official PanoGrama pages on Instagram ( and Facebook (”

WST - “How wide was the international viewership?”

Nevin R. - “There were viewers from across the Caribbean as well as the US, the UK, Canada, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan and France.”

WST - “How many musicians entered the contest?”

Nevin R. - “A total of 21 entered but 1 had to pull out at the last minute. I also had to turn away some musicians who wanted to get in after registration was closed.”

WST - “What was the feedback?”

Nevin R. - “The feedback was amazing! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the competition from start to finish. People loved the production, the engaging nature of the show, the live performances from soca artistes and other acts among many other things. I spent weeks post-event going through congratulatory messages across my social media pages. Positive feedback keeps coming in to this day.”

Nevin Roach
Nevin Roach

WST - “Will PanoGrama be an annual event?”

Nevin R. - “It most definitely will.”

WST - “And if so, do you foresee including small groups?”

Nevin R. - “The plan was to have an edition for small groups after the solo edition this year, but I opted to forgo that so I could improve my product. Maybe I can get that going next year. We'll see.”

WST - “How is PanoGrama different from Pan Ramajay?”

Nevin R. - “One of the major differences is that with Pan Ramajay, there is a set song list from which the organisers randomly select one for each musician to perform, whereas for PanoGrama, it is up to musicians to select their own tune from any genre of music. Both great competitions.”

WST - “How can you improve PanoGrama?”

Nevin R. - “For starters, the audio and the overall visual presentation of the competition can and will be improved. Outside of that, there are many other ways to improve. My mind is constantly ticking.”

WST - “What's your marketing strategy?”

Nevin R. - “To get my product out there, everywhere, using the resources I have access to.”

WST - “What do you consider the highlights of PanoGrama?”

Nevin R. - “There were so many for me personally, I could write an essay. However, one of the biggest highlights for me was having the president of Pan Trinbago, Mrs. Beverly Ramsey-Moore, grace the PanoGrama stage to give some remarks before I officially got action for the finals underway.”

WST - “Would you back or encourage your child, or close family member - to pursue a career as a performing panist?”

Nevin R. - “I would expose anyone to the steelpan and if they're interested in going all the way, my encouragement and support are sure.”

WST - “You are currently based in Barbados; talk about what you know of the art form of Pan on the island, your experiences, etc.?”

Nevin R. - “I have had great experiences in Barbados with steelpan, more specifically with my Mosaic Steel Orchestra family. Over the years, we have entertained yearly at Barbados' premier steelpan event 'Pan Pun De Sand,' opened for Machel Montano and performed at the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 among other high-profile gigs. There used to be a relatively decent band culture in Barbados but there was a shift at some point, where musicians started focusing more on going solo. There aren't as many active bands today as there used to be for one reason or the other. Ultimately, I believe that more could be done to push the artform here.”

WST - “If you were the president of a steelpan players association, would you allow your members to participate in any competition where their payment is not already guaranteed, and in escrow, before the competition has begun?”

Nevin R. - “I believe that players deserve to be paid what they are worth. However, it isn't always just about the money, especially under some circumstances. Ultimately, after discourse with my members, I would represent their best interests considering what we face in the moment.”

WST - “Given your experiences as a player, and event organizer - could you be part of steelband management?”

Nevin R. - “I was part of the management team for the Mosaic Steel Orchestra here in Barbados for a number of years. In addition to that, I currently manage sporting clubs/teams through my profession which adds to my experience in general management, so I could easily slip back into being part of management for a steel orchestra.”

WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to Pan?”

Nevin R. - “It's always a great feeling to see soloists and/or bands get opportunities to travel and promote the instrument in different countries .”

WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steelband movement?”

Nevin R. - “People who claim to want the best for steelpan but are quick to pull down those who are trying and are slow to support and contribute in a positive and meaningful way.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Nevin R. - “Panorama is a very serious business. It is one of the greatest shows and musical wars in the world, which showcases the national instrument of Trinidad & Tobago.”

WST - “Is Panorama a curse or blessing from your perspective?”

Nevin R. - “I look at it as a blessing.”

WST - “What is the greatest challenge for the steelband industry going forward, from your perspective?”

Nevin R. - “It's hard to say. We didn't see COVID-19 coming and sure, there could be other challenges outside of Pandemics, but time will tell.”

WST - “What is your vision for the steelpan instrument?”

Nevin R. - “For the instrument to be integrated into all schools world wide.”

WST - “What's up next musically, for Nevin Roach?”

Nevin R. - “I will continue to host my virtual concert series PanMotion live on Facebook, and PanoGrama 2021 is right around the corner ;).”

photos provided by Nevin Roach

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