Remembering the Quiet Queen of Pan - Glenda Gamory - A WST Reflective

Pan Community comes to celebrate the life of Glenda Gamory, President and founder of Pantonic Steel Orchestra

Glenda Gamory

Brooklyn, New York - On this late May 17 Spring evening, members of the New York steelband community and family and friends of Glenda Forde Gamory came out to pay their respects to this woman who, though petite in stature, had such a monumental impact on the global steelband artform and landscape.

Obituary - Glenda Forde Gamory
Note: Glenda Gamory led Pantonic Steel Orchestra to five championships, three of them consecutive

Germany, France, UK, Japan - far and wide Glenda was known and respected. As she embraced all - all embraced her. She was an extremely caring person who built bridges and special relationships.

Pan, family, Desperadoes and Pantonic were her passions.

The legendary musician Clive Bradley called Glenda Gamory a “facilitator.” A very apt description indeed. She provided folks with whatever they needed (a hug, a kick in the ass, unconditional love) - even when they didn’t even know they needed it or like it. She allowed them to be their best self. And it was no secret, that she frequently provided financial support...

Proud, intelligent, brave, loving, kind, industrious, committed, modest, thoughtful, strong, funny, determined, powerful, superstitious, resourceful and loyal she was. A winner. Yes. 

So many memories. So many stories we could tell.

Glenda Gamory was a woman with a fantastic dream. She pursued it with an unbridled passion and abandon. Met every challenge. Accomplished it. And along the way touched so many, many lives positively - directly and indirectly.

There are thousands of people who have no idea how incredibly important this woman was in their lives - past, present and future - because of her incredible selflessness and vision.

Glenda Gamory with Jonathan Scales (second from right) Fourchestra
Glenda with Jonathan Scales (second from right) Fourchestra

In terms of WST, she gave us complete access to do what we do. (interns, yearbook, unmatched recordings and documentation, business associations, and more). And she was never afraid to try what had never done before. Always supportive. Always a loving friend. Family.

In realizing her dream she unleashed a musical tsunami and earthquake on the music world in the name of Pantonic Steel Orchestra. Like the pyramids, those music works will be the focus of conversation, study, musical examination and global historical analysis, but their colossal existence is our reality. The ‘joy’ index that Glenda and Pantonic brought to the world is immeasurable. And she didn’t even play an instrument.

   Pantonic Steel Orchestra with ‘Ben Lion’ (2002 - Clive Bradley)

Glenda hard at work getting the panyard ready
Glenda ‘in the trenches’ getting the panyard ready

A superwoman? Absolutely yes. A seven-foot titan with super powers? No, not at all, in fact just the opposite - but she might as well have been, given the spotlight she brought to the world of Pan, her incredible accomplishments and know-how.

Glenda said, “Let them know I was just the cook and bottle washer.” Yes, she was indeed, but few cooks and bottle washers have ever left such a mammoth and consequential legacy.

Glenda Forde Gamory
Glenda Forde Gamory

As one of her childhood friends shared at the celebration of her life, “She was a Princess from The Hill (Laventille), and she was always a leader.”

And like the great wonders of the world - from the Pyramids to the Pan, she is now one of, and in the company with, the Ancestors. And every time we look at the Sphinx of Giza, we will see her face.

In the age of imagined mystical beings and superheroes - ‘Cous’ - the affectionate term with which Glenda referred to WST, and we, her, in return - was the real deal. They don’t make ’em like that no more. All human.

And one other thing: ‘Cous’ always told us “I don’t go out on my birthday.” Always a woman to her word. Glenda Gamory left us on May 9th 2019, one day before her birthday of May 10th.

   Pantonic Steel Orchestra with ‘Stranger’ (2001 Panorama)

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