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The Year 2008 in Pan

photo by R. Pope

2008 was an extremely interesting year for the steelpan music instrument.  Our When Steel Talks travels, coverage and stories took our site visitors literally all over the globe.  We saw the emergence and coming of age of the youth movement as two young and very talented arrangers (André White and Khan Cordice) - both still in their teens - captured major titles against stiff competition in the New York Panorama and the Antigua & Barbuda Moods of Pan Festival ‘25-A-Side,’ respectively.  On the flip side, we lost noted Trinidad journalist Terry Joseph, pan pioneers Oscar Pile in Trinidad and Antigua’s Leroy “Jughead” Gordon.  The untimely passing of Trinidad  and Tobago’s Desperadoes and New York’s D’Radoes premiere bassist Frank “Crawl” Findley and former Phase II captain Edme Gibbons - among others who also impacted on the steelpan art form during their lifetimes - left us with a giant void.

Steelpan as a formal instrument in music classes took When Steel Talks from Antigua through Dominica to Taiwan to New York in a serious way.  And as the journey continued, a panman was named a Chief in Nigeria; and another, as Prime Minster of Antigua & Barbuda, put in motion the naming of a mountain in honor and recognition of the USA’s incoming Commander-in-Chief, President-elect Barrack Obama.

Maryland’s Pan Masters Steel Orchestra threw their annual steelband jamboree, demonstrating that indeed, pan in the DC area is “for real.”  And a mere stone’s throw away at the Smithsonian in June, a twinning of the cultures of the Navajo Nation and the Steelband was represented by the performances of the Church Rock Academy Elementary School under the stewardship of musical director Randy Markham.

Our very own Queen Macoomeh dropped science on us in a new book Tales from the Icebox Land while placing pan judges on notice.  The literary movement continued as Trinival: Carnival of the Gods brought serious thought, observation and discussion to pan, carnival and calypso through Dr. Grant’s book.  Trinidad & Tobago’s very own living steelband legends Tony Williams and Bertie Marshall were recognized with their country’s highest national award.

Pan Podium under BAS (British Association of Steelbands) churned out article after article, illustrated by vivid photography, on the development of steelpan in the UK.  Indeed, the Pan Podium magazine is the standard bearer of excellence in modern-day print media documenting the art form.  And Pan Magazine under the direction of Les Slater and Dalton Narine reminded us that quality journalism is timeless - and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their documentation and reporting of pan in their now-historic magazine, being re-visited and re-published on Panonthenet.

Indeed the steelpan instrument opened the United Nations observance on slavery, while Ice Water Pan Ensemble stole the show in Panama and Australia showcased a major steelpan show.  Pan was everywhere in 2008, and also front and center on You Tube, where Japan’s Panorama Steel Orchestra remained the top viewed video on the When Steel Talks steelband music video channel.

And Pan, Facebook and When Steel Talks bonded as almost every pan person under thirty has now got a facebook ‘presence.’

Here for a list of the 2008 When Steel Talks headlines
Here for round-the-clock Global Steelpan Music News
Here for When Steel Talks Pan Times summaries
Here for a listing of panorama and festival winners worldwide

click here for the steelpan radio show

photo by WST pan photographer R. Pope



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