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“Emergent Business Enterprises: Steelbands in Educational, Religious and Community Institutions.” A Review


The Business and Economics of Pan - Clark Atlanta University Symposium in Review
 

Atlanta, Georgia - They came from Boston and Amherst, Massachusetts, in the north and Tallahassee in the south, and as far away as Paris, France, and Trinidad, the birthplace of the steelpan. For three days world-class panists, scholars, community activists, music educators and students gathered on the Clark Atlanta University campus in Atlanta, Georgia, under the theme: “Emergent Business Enterprises: Steelbands in Educational, Religious and Community Institutions.” The April 17-19, 2008 event was hosted by the Clark Atlanta University Economics Department in the School of Business Administration, in conjunction with Clark’s Department of Music and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia. Dr. Ajamu Nyomba, chair of the Economics Department and founder of Pan People Steelband of Atlanta, was the symposium principal convener. Dr. Carlton Brown, Provost and Executive Vice President of Clark Atlanta University, as well as Dr. Ed Davis, Interim Dean of the School of Business Administration, welcomed participants to the campus.

More than a dozen presenters filled six sessions on a wide range of topics concerned with the effective organization of the Steelband Movement, new technological innovations, such as the G-pan, and the development of pan jazz music. Session titles included “Starting and Maintaining a School, Church or Community Steelband,” “Issues with Instruments and Music for Steelbands,” and “The Business and Economics of Pan.” An estimated 200 students, professors, steelband directors, independent researchers and pan enthusiasts attended symposium events. It was such a pleasure to meet so many scholars doing so much amazing work on the subject, as well as so many pan lovers. The Honorable Gerard Greene, Consul General, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, brought greetings to the Opening Reception on Thursday and attended the symposium throughout the three days of activities.

Amilcar Shabazz, chair of the W. E. B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, gave the keynote presentation titled "Field Marshal Chalkie's Beat: The Steelband in the People's War for African Liberation." His address integrated an analysis of the contemporary political economy with some of the salient organizational dynamics and the aesthetics of the Steelband and Calypso traditions. The intellectual and metaphorical dimensions of the life work of Dr. Hollis “Mighty Chalkdust” Liverpool was cited as a model for the Steelband Movement and the Steelpan as an emergent, global industry. An exciting round of conversation with the audience followed.

Also on the symposium program was Trinidad panmaker, Roland Harrigin, who discussed the most recent addition to the pan family, the G-pan.

As one would expect, the symposium was interspersed with the sound of pan music. At the Opening Reception, the youngest member of Pan People Steelband, 6-year old Elmer Pride made his debut performance in a trio with Kiara Nyomba and Keisha Whiskey. There were also performances by Pan People Steelband and pan soloist Ronnie Dixon from Charlotte, North Carolina. The Saturday evening pan jazz concert featured top pan soloists Earl Rodney, Andy Narell and Nicholas Mohan. Orville Wright, chair, Performing Arts Department, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Ron Reid, Associate Professor, Ethnomusicologist, Berklee College of Music, Tufts University, both presented scholarly papers on Friday and performed in the concert on Saturday. Wright played piano in a piece with Narell, while Reid played bass on several pieces with Earl Rodney. Nicholas Mohan, “Atlanta’s new pan sensation,” also performed with the Rod Smith Jazz Quartet, which accompanied the pan soloists. Modern pan jazz as the unique fusion of the rhythms and characteristic styles of Calypso, Shango and East Indian music with traditional as well as the newer “smooth jazz” jazz rhythms was well represented in the evening’s performances.

The symposium convener, Dr.Nyomba, plans to publish selected papers from the 2008 conference, along with papers from the 2006 symposium, in an edited volume.

At the conclusion of the symposium, Dr. Nyomba announced the inauguration of “Pan in the Bamboo Grove,” a series of Sunday evening summer pan concerts, beginning on Sunday, May 26, 2008, during the Memorial Holiday weekend. The venue for the concerts will be Pan People’s Studio, the New Arts Exchange, 750 Kalb Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30312, just east of Downtown Atlanta.

contact:
Dr. Ajamu Nyomba
Clark Atlanta University
223 James P. Brawley Drive, SW
Atlanta, GA 30314
(404) 880-6286
pansymposium2008@aol.com

Clark Atlanta University

All photos by WST Pan photographer R. Pope



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