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PanoGrama 2021 Semi-final Virtual Steelpan Performances Raise The Roof

by Tamoy Ashman

Global - The NLCB PanoGrama international steelpan competition, which kicked off on May 7 with 30 panists from around the world, is now down to 10. This comes after 20 creative and talented panists showcased their musical prowess through nail-biting performances during the semi-final, which was held on May 13.

Fans and newcomers who tuned in to the show were treated to a presentation of amazing talent, pomp and pageantry. The 20 semi-finalists pulled out all the stops to ensure that viewers were left on the edge of their seats after each performance, whilst being cheered on by fans, music enthusiasts and their fellow countrymen. The panel of esteemed adjudicators was in a non-enviable position during the semi-final as they made their selections. This was evident from the colourful commenting online and the closeness in the scores awarded to each competitor by the adjudicators for the top 10 spots.

Panist Mathieu Borgne of France who led the pack after the preliminaries, also came out on top in the semi-final with 92.6 points, followed closely by Dejean Cain (T&T) with 92 points, Tyeesha Alexander (T&T) with 91 points, Jamel Cadette (T&T) with 89.6 points and Earl Brooks Jr. (T&T) with 87 points. The panists who secured the remaining spots in the final include Hanif Goodridge (T&T) with 86 points, David Yundi (USA) 84.2 points, Keishaun Julien (T&T) with 83.8 points, Charlton Alfonso (T&T) with 83.6 points and Andre Forde (Barbados) with 83.4 points.

Reacting to the captivating visuals of the preliminaries, host Nevin Roach and co-host Aundrea Wharton both wore wigs, paying homage to how creative the performers have been throughout the competition. Roach made mention of the fact that the presentation and costumes of panists - such as Gabriel Chartrand from Canada, who wore a pirate costume in the preliminaries - were so good, that they too wanted to be a part of the action.

As spectators laughed and ignited the chat box with comments showing their amusement, they were reminded that they have an opportunity to vote for the Best Costume and People’s choice award by visiting to cast their votes for their favourites.

The night of competition started with a smooth and mellow rendition of Childish Gambino’s ‘Summertime Magic’ by the reigning champion Earl Brooks Jr. His performance set the tone for the night, which was filled with high hitters from start to finish. The performance from Mikiel Smith - who played ‘Get in Yuh Section’ by Little Natty and Thunda and paid homage to the jab jab culture in his country, Grenada - had viewers dancing and dropping ‘flames’ in the comment section online. Other notable performances came from Deja Cain, with her rendition of ‘Feel the Love’ by Freetown Collection and Charlton Alfonso who played ‘Dear Promoter’ by Voice and Kes as well as Le’Roi Simmonds who played a rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘Jammin’’ and Detroy Dey who played ‘Toxic Love’ by Ricardo Drue and Patrice Roberts.

Some viewers would say the shock element of the night was when Shaquille Forbes of Trinidad and Tobago did not make it into the finals. Forbes’ execution of ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ by Whitney Houston left many dancing in the live chat room. His performance was described by many viewers as spectacular. Forbes, known for his wigs throughout the competition, wore a huge afro wig and paired it with a disco outfit which gave the desired glistening effect for his performance. Towards the end, spectators were treated to the smooth moves of a couple who danced in the background as Forbes performed.

When Forbes did not make it into the finals, it was seen as an indication to many of just how stiff the competition was, as many believed he captured the tagline of the event: “live, love, play and enjoy.” Forbes and the other eliminated panists won’t leave the competition empty-handed, as all semi-finalists will get a promotional copy of the number one Steelpan app ‘Gold’ which allows panists to play virtually.

The 10 finalists will be competing for a grand prize of USD $1,000.00, an all-expenses-paid trip to Canada to perform for the Sons of Steel concert, a virtual session with steelpan virtuoso Victor Provost, an appearance fee, and an Augustus Peters Steelpans Low C Tenor Pan package. Panists placing 2nd and 3rd will go home smiling, as they will receive USD $800.00 and USD $500.00 respectively, and a virtual session with Provost.

The positive effects of the PanoGrama extends beyond the panists; as founder and host Nevin Roach announced, they will be making donations to two charitable causes. These include the Social Prosperity Fund started by Pan Trinbago, which assists vulnerable families, supporters and struggling panists, as well as the St. Vincent Pan association to help with relief efforts after the island’s volcanic eruption. Roach stated that one of his main aims for starting the steelpan competition was to assist struggling panists during a pandemic. Therefore, he is happy to say that they will once again be donating to such a cause. Roach also made special mention of Rodney Small of St. Vincent who has been working with his team to assist residents of the island wherever possible.

From the news desk of:


The PanoGrama 2021 final will air May 22 at 8:00 p.m. AST (Atlantic Standard Time), via:

--  PanoGrama’s Instagram (@pano.grama)
--  YouTube (
--  Facebook (@pano.grama1)


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