André White makes History with ‘Heat’ and ADLIB Steel Orchestra

André White with ADLIB Steel Orchestra on stage at the 2008 New York Panorama
André White with ADLIB Steel Orchestra on stage at the 2008 New York Panorama


New York, USA -  History, history, history! And probably as never before in any steelband music panorama around the world. History was made in New York with the release of the 2008 New York Panorama results in the early hours of the last day of August.

left to right - ADLIB’s Lisa Mayers [in hat], mom Colleen, André, and grandmother Maureen
left to right - ADLIB’s Lisa Mayers [in hat], mom Colleen, André, and grandmother Maureen

Colleen White, mother of winning steelband music arranger André White, stood shyly by with people surrounding her, tears of joy streaming down her face as the euphoric celebration erupted on the stage after 1:00 a.m. when the 2008 New York Panorama ended - triumphantly for ADLIB Steel Orchestra which hails from Long Island, New York. André’s grandmother Maureen White was alternately dancing around and pausing for photographs with ecstatic co-celebrants. Mom and Grandmom, of course, are André’s biggest supporters and fans.

All the while, André was being hoisted above the shoulders of his band ADLIB, put down again, seized for hugs and kisses, had microphones thrust in his face for comments, grabbed for pictures, handshakes, and sought out for autographs. As both digital and cell phone cameras flashed at and around him, other band members called friends and family, crying and screaming through their phones at the same time “We Win!”

Why the euphoria, tears, and more, one may ask? Well - this was no ordinary victory. You see, the sensational winning steelband arranger who now lays claim to the same championship title as coveted and won by other renowned arrangers in the New York steelband panorama arena - such as Denzel Botus and Scipio Sargeant, Arddin Herbert, the late Clive Bradley, Yohan Popwell and others - is a mere teenager. André is all of eighteen years old as of May 26 this year. The talented teen who is realizing his potential, trounced tested arrangers such as Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore, Arddin Herbert, Yohan Popwell, Keith Roberts, Pelham Goddard and Eddison Quarless to have ADLIB crowned the championship steel orchestra for 2008.

It should be noted that in Trinidad and Tobago, there is the annual junior panorama where arrangers can be as young as André, but the difference is that they compete against their relatively aged peers. In New York, André competes with the regular ‘big guns’ arrangers - all of whom are old enough to be his father, or grandfather.

ADLIB Steel Orchestra, who took the stage with around ninety musicians this year, has never before won a New York Panorama.  The closest they came was back in 2001 when they placed third, with then-arranger Ruben Nelson, and again last year in 2007 when they executed André’s arrangement of Band in Space written by Amrit Samaroo.  Samaroo and White have struck up quite a musical relationship - with André playing in Renegades Steel Orchestra in Trinidad and Tobago’s 2008 panorama where Samaroo arranged - and André again selected Samaroo’s music for ADLIB’s 2008 panorama appearance, a track called Heat.

White is one of those people who ‘lives, eats, sleeps and breathes’ the steelpan instrument family and the music produced - literally. He is one of many youngsters who grew up with ADLIB which he joined at age six. And in André’s case, there was a time when he could barely reach the steelpan instrument he was playing at the time. André has always been avid about steelband music, and was formally introduced as ADLIB’s arranger back in 2006 at age fifteen. He had already, though, contributed much to arranging for the orchestra - featuring his own band mates - for a considerable period before that time.

André returned from England one week ago, having scored what was probably another first -again being the youngest arranger for England’s Mangrove Steel Orchestra which was awarded sixth place in London’s 31st Annual panorama competition. The brilliant young musician manages his time exceptionally well. He had returned to England for the second time on August 17 in final preparation - but - had already completed ADLIB’s arrangement for the New York panorama. And that task was finished before he even initially set foot in London to arrange for Mangrove Steel orchestra.

André unhesitatingly and continuously acknowledges the support of the Mayers family, affectionately known as ‘Uncle Frank and Auntie Jean’ and their daughter Lisa, who have been major influences in his life ever since he became part of the extended ADLIB family.  In fact Franklin Mayers urged André to accept what, at his young age, was the fantastic opportunity to arrange for one of England’s veteran and premier steel orchestras.  But this almost fairytale summer, and its ending with the New York panorama championship was also due to the unstinting support of his band ADLIB, its stageside representation who interpreted then passed on his musical ideas and directives, double second player Kerneil Wells who drilled the orchestra and took it unrelentingly through its paces, and double tenor player Lashera Smith who was right there alongside Kerneil; both these youngsters are between eighteen and nineteen years of age.

The J’Ouvert celebration features various steelbands on the road in Brooklyn, New York as a prelude to the Labor Day celebrations on Eastern Parkway. The scaled-down representation of ADLIB Steel Orchestra is just one of the steelbands that hundreds of people will be jumping and chipping to on J’Ouvert Monday morning less than twenty-four hours from now. And ADLIB’s “tune for the road” will be one that André himself would have put together for the band on Sunday afternoon into evening time, shortly before he heads off to school. Yes, he begins his first year of college at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He follows in the footsteps of the Thwaites brothers - Sherwin, Shawn and now Sheldon in attending Berklee, and will also have as company another ace New York all-round musician - Iman Pascall - who has been accepted to Berklee in her third year of college.

Back in 2006, and even prior, When Steel Talks has been consistent in drawing attention to young André White as a music talent to watch, and predicted great things for him and ADLIB. The future of pan is indeed in very good - and young - hands, quite literally!

André via Facebook


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