Steelpan Arranger
Steve Achaba

Steve Achaiba

The late Steve Achaiba - Hatters,  South Stars, Invaders
Panorama Championships
Trinidad & Tobago - 1975

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Hatters Steel Orchestra 1975 National Panorama trophy

This is the National Panorama trophy that Hatters Steel Orchestra won in 1975, beating the second place winner by 40 points. The leader and arranger was Steve Achaiba who passed away on July 19th 2018. He was known as one of the geniuses in pan in the 70s.


He was the one who taught Ken “Professor” Philmore to play the tenor pan and named him “Pro” because of his glasses and small stature. There are many steel band-breaking records done by this arranger - Steve Achaiba - which the fraternity needs to be aware of.

(by Candace Achaiba)

Chronological Achievements

1954 - 1956
(10-12 years)
- Tuned grapefruit and ESSO oil tins and performed for the "Auntie Kay" radio programme. Played with Hatters pan-round-the-neck and Tropical Heart Beats.
1957 - 1963
(13-19 years)
- Played with Hatters pan-round-the-neck, Rouges Regiment Steel Orchestra and was instrumental in forming the third Trinidad Seascouts Steel Orchestra, where he arranged and conducted.  
1963  - Joined Guinness Cavaliers until 1967. He was part arranger and also arranged six (6) tunes on the Cavaliers' record. Toured Suriname with Cavaliers.  
1967 - Founded Hatters Steel Orchestra Conventional Band. He was Captain and arranger.  
1968 - Hatters placed 3rd in South Panorama.  
1969 - Won South Panorama. Placed 7th in National Panorama and it was the only unsponsored band.  
1970 - Hatters did not go to Panorama. Steve went to Canada to teach the Steel Pan at a University in Vancouver.    
1971 - Won South Panorama. Placed in the National Panorama.  He then left for Canada to teach.  
1972 - Won South Panorama. Made it to the semi-finals in National Panorama and then returned to Canada to continue teaching.  
1973 - Placed 2nd in South Panorama.  
1974 - Placed 3rd in South Panorama and 2nd in National Panorama by a half point. Toured Minnesota, U.S.A. (Aquatennial Festival).  

 - Won South Panorama. Won National Panorama (all rounds) and also won 'People's Choice.' - the largest band to ever perform in Panorama which comprised one hundred and fifty-six (156) pan players - not counting the rhythm section players (there were one hundred and seventy-two (172) players in total). Toured the U.S.A. at the Dallas State Fair in Texas.
 - Placed 2nd in South Panorama and 2nd in National Panorama by a half point again
- Placed 1st in South Panorama  
1978  - Left Hatters and formed his own band "SOUTH STARS STEEL ORCHESTRA". He did not enter South Panorama. Placed 6th in National Panorama and again it was the smallest band and unsponsored.  
1979 - No Panorama  
1980  - Won South Panorama. Placed 7th in National Panorama. He took Naparima Girls Steel Band to Junior Panorama and won. To date it is the only Girls Steel Orchestra to ever win South Junior Panorama (Taught: 1975 — 1980). Toured Ontario, Canada with Naparima Girls Band on cultural exchange.  
1981  - Won South Panorama. Placed 3rd in National Panorama.
   Represented Trinidad and Tobago at CARIFESTA in Barbados. 
1984 - South Stars toured Edmonton, Canada  
N.B. - From 1982 - 1984 South Stars placed in the top three (3) in South Panorama  
1985 - Conducted Invaders Steel Orchestra for the Queen Elizabeth II visit to the University of the West Indies. Arranged for Invaders for Panorama. Placed 1st in National Preliminaries, 2nd in North Finals and 8th in National Finals.  
1986 - Arranged for Trintoc Invaders. Founded "ACHAIBA'S SCHOOL OF MUSIC" together with his wife Candace.  
1987 - Arranged for Silver Harps in Point Fortin and placed 4th in South Panorama.  
N.B. - From 1969 - 1984 won 'Best Beating Band' (on the road) Carnival Monday and Tuesday.  
2008 - Achaiba's South Stars Steel Orchestra entered 'Pan is Beautiful Festival' and placed 3rd in the Chamber Ensemble category. That said year the Achaiba's Pan Assembly entered the Trinidad and Tobago National Arts Festival and placed 1st in the National finals (Champion Ensemble).  
2009 Tutored Navid Babwah who entered the World Championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California and won the World Junior Champion Instrumentalist overall.  


  1. First person to win a National Panorama both as a player and arranger

    1. 1968 - Played in Guinness Cavaliers under Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed

    1. 1975 – Leader and arranger of Maritime Life Hatters Steel orchestra
  2. In 1974 Hatters was the first band to appear on stage with canopies on the floats.  This captured the sound from the open stage.
  3. Largest steel orchestra to cross the “Big Yard” (Queen’s Park Savannah) with 172 players (156 pan players and 16 rhythm players) and win the National Panorama for the Southland.
  4. To this date, no steel orchestra from South has won the National Panorama. 2019 would make it 44 years since South won a National Panorama.
  5. In 1974 Hatters was the first band to arrange other pans besides the tenor pan in the frontline. (Steve Achaiba arranged double tenors and double seconds in order to hear harmonizations which created a melodious balance.  

Data sourced by When Steel Talks from:  Mrs. Candace Achaiba - (February 2019)

   “Tribute To Spree” by Hatters Steel Orchestra - 1975 National Panorama Champions - Arranger: Steve Achaiba

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