Panorama Gold

Starlift Steel Orchestra

Panorama Championships - 1969, 1971, 1978

2024 Tune of choice: Pan In “A” Minor - Remastered  |  arranger:  Danté Pantin

  Starlift’s panyard preliminary performance of  2023’s “Witch Doctor”

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The Starlift Steel Orchestra was formed in late 1956 under the guidance of Jene Peters, the first captain. From its inception, Starlift established itself as a group of pan players whose ambition was to participate in all areas involving the steelband movement and to positively pursue specific aims and objectives in an effort to build and maintain a properly constituted and viable organization.

Over the years Starlift has acquired a quality repertoire compiled by a cadre of high-calibre arrangers such as Robert Greenidge, Ray Holman, Clive Bradley, Carlysle Oliver, Eastlyn Hinds, Annise Hadeed, Herschel Puckerin and Aldon Moore. The band has been a finalist at the National Panorama nineteen times since the competition was inaugurated in 1963 and has won the coveted trophy in 1969, 1971 and 1978. Starlift has traveled to Costa Rica, North America and Venezuela.

Starlift  Arrangers

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

Led by Eugene Peters, Starlift was formed in 1956 in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, by a group of panmen from the Nightingale, Saigon, and Invaders steelbands. The band took its name from the 1951 musical "Starlift" which starred Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. Its first panyard was located at 9 Brabant Street and its tuner was Michael "Natzi" Snyder. Among its first members were ex-Invaders panmen Albert "Philo" James, Carlton "My Fan" Drayton, Vernon "Vats" Duncan, and Andrew "Bambi" Contant, Alfred Lumlock, Archie Ali, Choy Chansing, Michael and Kenneth Jadunath, Ruthven Herbert, Gary Griffith. The band started off as a stage side based at 8 Brabant Street, Woodbrook, and played at the American base at Pier 2, Chaguaramas. The band took to the road for the first time in 1957 under the leadership of James who was also its musical arranger. From 1957 to 1960, the band was located on Brabant Street. Some of the other members in the 1950s included: Ernest Greaves, Irwin "Pick" Alexis, Toy Lewis, Hershel Puckerin, Aldwyn Vidale, Hugh Wellington ,and David "Splav" Waddell.

After a hiatus in 1961, the band resumed functioning in 1962 at the intersection of Damian and Hunter Streets with some of the following panmen: Gaston "Baby" Pierre, Ronald Emrit, Harold "Bip" Phillips, Joseph Pierre, Errol Brown, "JohnO" Brown, Rhonda Wellington, David Stoddart, and Emile Charles. In 1963, there was an exodus of many panmen from the Invaders Steelband who joined Starlift, among them, Ray Holman, Roland "Dinners" Inniss, Michael Phillips, Winston "Mouther Bee" Phillips, Percival Pitt, Wilfred and Selwyn Sharpe, Merrill Maund, Kelvin Barclay, Irwin "Fatman" Ross, and Errol Prout.

In 1963, the band was relocated to Hunter Street, between Pole-Carew and Damian Streets, where arranger Ray Holman joined the band after departing the Invaders Steelband the same year. Holman's musical arrangements won the band two Panorama victories in 1969 and 1971; a third Panorama title was achieved in 1978 with Herschel Puckerin as arranger. Beginning in 1964, the band has had five sponsors: Angostura Limited (1964-1969); Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (1969-1977); Trinidad Tesoro (1977-1983); Trintopec (1983-1992); and PCS Nitrogen Trinidad Limited (1997-2006). In 1968, the band held practice next to the Woodbrook Youth Center. In 1970, it functioned at the corner of Warren and Gallus Streets, and later moved to Alfredo Street, between Ariapita Avenue and Wrightson Road. In the 1980s, it was relocated to Starlift Drive, behind the old Roxy Theatre. On June 5, 2004, the band formally opened its headquarters at the House of Music on Mucurapo Road. Following its musical success, Starlift has appeared in Canada, Costa Rica, USA, and Venezuela.

In addition to its music, Starlift had two Carnival masquerade presentations that finished in the top five in the Large Band-of-the-Year competition: "Undersea Kingdom" (1957, 5th); and "Nursery Rhymes" (1958, 4th). In 2003, Starlift remained one of only two steelbands to ever accomplish this feat. Other notable presentations by the band were "Splendour Among the Himalayas" (1965), "Ceremony of the Redmen," "Of Feasts and Festivals," and "Feather Fantasy." Starlift finished among the top three steelbands in the following significant competition:

1964 Panorama 3rd Bullpistle Gang (Mighty Sparrow) Ray Holman
1964 Steelband Music Festival 2nd Allelujah Chorus (Handel) Albert James
1968 Panorama 2nd Jane (Mighty Sparrow) Ray Holman
1969 Panorama 1st The Bull (Lord Kitchener) Ray Holman
1970 Panorama 2nd Pan Man (Mighty Sparrow) Ray Holman
1971 Panorama 1st (Tied) Queen of the Bands (Mighty Sparrow) Ray Holman
1972 Panorama 3rd Pan on the Move (Ray Holman) Ray Holman
1978 Panorama 1st Du Du Yemi (Mighty Sparrow) Herschel Puckerin
2006 Panorama 3rd If We Really Want (Ray Holman) Ray Holman
Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit

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