Steelpan Arranger

Leon "Smooth" Edwards - Champion Steelpan Arranger
WST Pan Photographer

Leon “Smooth” Edwards

 Leon “Smooth” Edwards - Trinidad All Stars, Dixieland
Panorama Championships
Trinidad and Tobago - 1980, 1981, 1986, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2024

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Leon “Smooth” Edwards is a multi-winning Arranger at Panorama Championships in Trinidad and Tobago -­ 1980, 1981, 1986, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2024.

He is also the Team Leader at the Academy for the Performing Arts at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and Steelband Coordinator. He has been a Music Composer and Arranger for over 25 panorama songs, Steelpan Instructor, Assistant Musical Director of Trinidad All Stars and arranger of seven National Panorama Winners.

The public mostly knows him as a good, even great arranger. A good arranger must be original, creative and adaptive, and Edwards seems be part of that rare breed.

Edwards, the seventh of eight siblings, spent his formative years a block away from Tokyo’s panyard. His family moved to Laventille, an area that abounds in panyards. His eldest brother, George, played pan in City Symphony. Another brother, Winston, had joined Dem Fortunates and Solo Harmonites. Pan definitely was a conscious influence on his early life.

A scholar at Queen’s Royal College, Edwards followed young boys in the area who were playing pan. In 1968, he signed up with Trinidad All Stars.

Determination and skill led to his successful debut as a Panorama arranger in 1976 with Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra.

His arrangement of “Woman on the Bass,” (an aria to Annie Lopez, Despers’ first female bassist), became a classic piece of steelband history, is a staple at parties and still resides in All Stars’ road repertoire. This 1980 Panorama victory put Edwards on a pedestal right away as clearly an Arranger to be reckoned with. Between 1985-­1989, he was Steelband Development Officer in the Ministry of Culture in Trinidad and Tobago.

Edwards’ arrangements spanned 13 years through 1988, and he studied music theory at the University of Florida during the period.

In 1989, he migrated to the USA. For ten years, while putting his children through school and college, he was Musical Director at the Cultural Academy For Excellence and Director/Performer Smooth Pan Sounds, in Washington DC, USA.

In 1999, he had a dream that he would return to arranging for Panorama. The band called two days later. In 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2024, Edwards arranged the winning songs in Panorama.

Additional info below posted with special permission from the by Ronald C. Emrit - check link for potential updates

EDUCATION:   Queen's Royal College (1963-70)
  • Trinidad All Stars (1968-2002)
  • Smooth Pan Sounds, Washington, DC, USA (1999-2002)
  • Player (Tenor, Double-Second)
  • Arranger
  • CAREER:  Edwards joined the Trinidad All Stars steelband in 1968 and began arranging in 1975; he later toured Africa with the band in 1977. As of 2015, his musical arrangements took All Stars to Panorama victories eight times: 1980, 1981, 1986, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2015. In 1988, he migrated to the Washington, DC, area in the USA and, in 1989, began teaching technical skills to the Metroplitan Steel Symphony sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. While in the USA, he participated in the formation of two youth steelbands under the auspices of the Cultural Academy for Excellence: Positive Vibrations and his church band. In 1999, he began making solo performances in the Washington, DC, area. The following is a summary of the Trinidad All Stars record in the Panorama competition with musical arrangements by Edwards:
    • 1976 - "Pan in Harmony" (Lord Kitchener), Final
    • 1977 - "Republic Dance" (Lord Kitchener), Semi-Finals
    • 1978 - "The Dog" (Lord Kitchener)
    • 1980 - "Woman on the Bass" (Scrunter), 1st
    • 1981 - "Unknown Band" (Blue Boy), 1st
    • 1982 - "Heat" (Lord Kitchener), 2nd
    • 1983 - "Rebecca" (Blue Boy), 3rd
    • 1984 - "Doh Back Back" (Mighty Sparrow), 2nd
    • 1985 - "Suck Me Soucouyant" (Crazy), 3rd
    • 1986 - "The Hammer" (David Rudder), 1st
    • 1987 - "Curry Tabanca" (Mighty Trini), Final
    • 1988 - "Pan in Yuh Ruckungkutungkung" (Mighty Duke)
    • 1998 - "Me and My Lady" (Car Wash), 3rd
    • 1999 - "Having A Ball" (Disciple), Final
    • 2000 - "Jump for Joy" (Superblue), Final
    • 2001 - "Rain Melody" (Preacher), 2nd
    • 2002 - "Fire Storm" (The Original De Fosto Himself), 1st
    • 2003 - "Pandora" (The Original De Fosto Himself), 2nd
    • 2004 - "Ah Pay Meh Dues" (The Original De Fosto Himself), 2nd (Tied)
    • 2006 - "Soca Warriors" (The Original De Fosto Himself), 2nd
    • 2007 - "Pan Lamentation" (The Original De Fosto Himself), 1st
    • 2008 - "Thunder Coming" (The Original De Fosto Himself), 2nd
    • 2009 - "Pan Rivalry," 3rd
    • 2010 - "Large Is Large" (Leon Edwards), 3rd
    • 2011 - "It's Showtime" (Anslem Douglas), 1st
    • 2012 - "Play Yourself" (sung by Crazy), 1st
    • 2013 - "Bounce And Drive" (Clive Telemaque), 2nd
    • 2014 - "Excitement" (Shirlaine Hendrickson), 2nd
    • 2015 - "Unquestionable" (Sheldon Reid), 1st 
    • 2016 - “Leave We Alone” (Sheldon Reid), 6th 
    • 2017 - “Full Extreme” (Ultimate Rejects), 1st 
    Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit