“The Codrington Pan Family is always experimenting, trying new things to enhance the music and the performance, trying to chart a new direction for Pan to give it a greater international appeal targeting youth...” The Codrington Pan Family
WST - For those who are not aware of the accomplishments of the Codington Pan Family tell us about the organization?
Codrington Pan Family
Codrington - “The Codrington Pan Family is a family band; Dad (Cary), Mom (Karen) and six kids (Kareem, Khari, Kaijah, Keisha, Kamau and Kizzi). The band was formed on the streets of Port-of-Spain in 1999. We have since grown from a family band of eight, to a single pan of approximately 40, now to a small conventional steel orchestra of 60.
“Over the years we have accomplished many achievements - some of which are: winning the We Beat 5-Ah Side Competition every year in the three years of its existence; winning the soloist and quartet categories of the World Steelband Music Festival in 2004; winning the J’Ouvert Morning Bomb Competitions for single pan at both Pan Trinbago’s J’Ouvert Morning Bomb and Renegades Heroes Bomb competitions for four consecutive years 2006-2009; winning the Steelband Music Festival Single Pan Category in 2008; placing 2nd in Pan Down Memory Lane Competition in 2007 and winning the event in 2009; winning the first-ever International Steelpan Jazz Challenge in 2011 topping all bands including Renegades, Exodus, Redemption Sound Setters, Skiffle Bunch, and Desperadoes etc., and placing 2nd in the 2010 Pan in the 21st Century Competition again surpassing Exodus, Skiffle Bunch, Silver Stars, Katzenjammers, Harmonites etc.
“We have travelled extensively: Barbados, Curacao, Chicago, Las Vegas and Hollywood—at the World Championship of the Performing Arts—winning 16 Gold medals and 2 Champion of the World Plaques. We have also been to Japan and India, and Keisha has performed in the Czech Republic in 2010. We believe she is the first panist to have performed there. We have performed for many prominent persons including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew - Duke of York, Excellencies King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain, Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and many others.”
WST - This year the orchestra is going with Machel Montano's "Vibes Cyah Done." This is not a typical 'Panorama tune' of choice. Why this tune?
Codrington - “We believe that there needs to be a shift in the musical direction where Panorama in concerned. There are a lot of young people attending panorama each year but not necessarily to listen to steelband music. They are more attracted to the rhythm sections and the Soca artistes that perform in the North Stand. We believe if we are successful we can bring about a change in the music performed by steelbands generally and not only at Panorama. Steelpan music should be more appealing to young people. The Codrington Pan Family is always experimenting, trying new things to enhance the music and the performance, trying to chart a new direction for Pan to give it a greater international appeal targeting youth.”
WST - Was there any concern, opposition to the choice of song, in relation to some of the other more traditional material available, and specifically geared toward the steelband panorama competition?
Codrington - “Everyone in the band loves the song. There was some concern from Keisha that it was not a traditional Pan song. After discussing the concept and direction of the music, Keisha is now very excited about the song.”
WST - The media coverage of the small steel orchestra category ranges between poor and non-existent. Who is responsible for this unacceptable behavior?
Codrington - “We cannot blame anyone in specific. We think that this is so because of normal human behavior. Not much people will be interested in buying a DVD/CD of the Small or Single Pan Category as opposed to Medium and Large. Hence the reason for the somewhat effortless media coverage. In any type of event or competition the top or larger groups always get the greater attention.”
WST - Why do you arrange panorama music?
Codrington - “Panorama is the biggest stage for Steelband activities and Panorama generates the most interest amongst the steelpan fraternity.”
WST - Describe your creative process?
Codrington - “After identifying a tune that we want to work with, we then develop a concept for the music and tell the story of the concept through the music.”
WST - Do you ever feel the need to compromise your music to satisfy the judges?
Codrington - “We see the judges as part of the audience and we arrange music that will appeal to the entire audience. We always try to raise the bar and we are our greatest critic.”
WST - What are your expectations and vision for the future of Pan?
Codrington - “Our expectations and vision for the future of Pan is very simple but hard to accomplish. We believe that the Steelband movement in general and Panorama in particular needs more effective marketing strategies. Also, too much emphasis is placed on Panorama thereby making Pan a seasonal thing, and there are not enough year-round events to capture the interest of steelbands. There also need to be competitions for soloists and small ensembles in the Steelband calendar.”
WST - What are your three all-time favorite Panorama arrangements?
Codrington - “It is very difficult to choose just three in such a vast amount of musical gems. We like most of Boogsie, most of Bradley, some of Ray Holman and some of Smooth [Leon "Smooth" Edwards]. If we have to choose three we can think of Clive Bradley’s Rebecca, Pan In Harmony and Boogsie Sharpe’s Birthday Party.”
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