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Trinidad & Tobago Panorama 2007 - HOME

Ray Holman is Back!
Starlift set to reach Higher Heights in 2007
Trinidad & Tobago Steelband Panorama 2007


Starlift arranger and ace musician
Ray Holman, at work with Starlift in 2006

Trinidad - Ray Holman is the arranger who in 2006, literally resurrected Starlift Steel Orchestra and brought them back to their glory days.  Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, the band which did not make it out of the preliminary round in 2005, was back with a bang last year, working alongside their band alumnus and world-famous musician Ray Holman as arranger, who resolutely hauled them into the semi-finals, and then to third place overall in the championship round.

Starlift Steel Orchestra, who also celebrated their fiftieth anniversary last year, is entering the competition with another Ray Holman composition in 2007 - 'We Just Can't Go on Like This.'  Ray is very happy to have pinned down Keith 'Designer' Prescott, his vocalist of choice for his 2007 music project.  In fact the arranger wrote two songs - the other is called 'You Were There,' which he says is a soca/R&B crossover piece.  Ray has entered Designer in Trinidad & Tobago's 'Groovy Soca Monarch' competition with the latter selection, and expects great things from the acclaimed veteran vocalist - "if he would get here [Trinidad]!", Ray half-laughingly, half-seriously exclaimed.  Designer is based in New York and is a driving force as lead vocalist for The Therapy BandWhen Steel Talks understands that Ray wrote the music and lyrics for both 'You Were There' and Starlift's panorama selection, though he admitted that the latter task [lyrics] was "painstaking work."  He described We Just Can't Go On Like This, as "kind of classy" and said "it sounds good on pan."

About eighty-five players practice nightly at the band's pan yard located in north-western Trinidad - at this juncture, a much healthier showing than last year.  Ray expects the orchestra to easily top the one-hundred player mark with more musicians due to arrive from abroad.  These will be in addition to those who will come aboard in the days leading up to the competition, such as pannists who played previously with other bands.  According to the arranger, the band membership is more confident than in 2006 (that's what third place in the finals will do for you).  Regarding the arrangement, only the ending remains to be put on, but even that, Ray notes, is critical and he expects to spend the remainder of his time 'tweaking' and sharpening up, adjusting as he listens to the piece come together with the orchestra, and paying attention to the pan musicians who will be 'falling in' in the days ahead.

Asked about his thoughts on the scrapping of the large band preliminaries for 2007, Ray does not regard it as having any real impact, and views the semi-finals as 'really the big thing.'  But, he says, when the prelims used to be held in the [Queen's Park] Savannah, "it was much more exciting [than the panyard version of the last few years], and everybody used to look forward to that.  Now - that [excitement] has been transferred to the semis."

A look at Starlift's present complement of players for Panorama 2007 reveals an interesting mix, and ratio of male to female players - about seven to one in favor of men, by Ray's estimate.  That make-up is more characteristic of steel orchestras of years gone by, when women were in the minority.  Nowadays, women hold their own in terms or steelband representation, and in some cases even out-number their male counterparts.  But arranger Ray Holman adds that "those women there [in Starlift] can really, really play!"

Like many in the steelband world, Ray Holman has his opinion about the shift of the Panorama finals to San Fernando in south Trinidad for the first time in the event's history.  "I don't think that it's [finals in San Fernando] a good idea.  The venue is unsuitable for such a large undertaking; an event like that needs a better venue."  He personally thinks that it is going to be a logistical 'nightmare.'  "...The savannah - the grand stand is still there, nothing has been done, and I can't for the life of me, see why they haven't used the grand stand." 

The grand stand at the Queen's Park Savannah is scheduled for demolition, and a more modern structure to be built in its place.  This has caused the relocation of the majority of the major shows for the 2007 carnival and panorama season, including the Panorama finals.  However, demolition is reportedly yet to begin.


Live Exclusive Interview with
Starlift arranger Ray Holman

There is a lot more to Ray Holman the musician, than panorama arranger.   He is a world-renowned musician and pannist in his own right, and travels around frequently during the year.   Ray is scheduled to leave Trinidad on March 26 and will be on tour around the USA in such places as Ohio, Baltimore, Denver, Tallahassee, Southern Mississippi and Iowa.  Additionally, he will accompany St. Joseph's Convent choir from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on their trip to Germany, and possibly will be heading to Switzerland in June, though the latter has not been confirmed.  But even before that, and to drive the point home, mere days after panorama - from February 22-24 to be exact - Ray will showcase with his band in a concert that is just over two hours.  These are repeat performances of his highly-acclaimed shows at Trinidad's Little Carib Theatre back in November of '06, and an excellent way for pan enthusiasts to bring the curtains down on what would surely have been a phenomenal pan season; visitors to Trinidad & Tobago should plan to stay and take in at least one of the three nightly shows.

The February band line-up will almost mirror that of earlier November '06, which included vocalists Keith "Designer" Prescott and Ohio-based Tyler Rounds, flautist Mark Brewster, guitarist Lancelot Nichols, bassist Michael Germain, keyboardist Ron Aqui, drummer Joey Samuel and percussionist Errol Rahma.  The talented musician told When Steel Talks  that by popular demand, though not finalized, talks are ongoing to bring the show to the USA.

But for the next two weeks, the focus is different.  Ray will eat, sleep (well, maybe, not sleep!) and breathe nothing but 'Panorama' as he and his band Starlift Steel Orchestra, in their fifty-first year of existence, take their shot at Trinidad & Tobago's 2007 National Panorama championship title.

Contact Ray Holman at, 1 (868) 622-7243,  and

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