Meet Gregory Lindsay - Manager, Administrator, Panist - Up-Close!

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

When Steel Talks Exclusive icon

“In my opinion, they are not represented as well as they ought to be. There is no Musician’s Union in this Republic, even though there are prominent examples in other jurisdictions. Accordingly, players are always left hanging out to dry; then, orchestras - unsponsored single pan, to large [orchestras]. The buck stops at the office of the President of Pan Trinbago.” –– Gregory Lindsay

“Shut-up and play yur pan” is not part of his DNA.  Whether you love him or hate him - there is no doubt that he is one of ʽthe straws that stir the drink.’ Furthermore, he is clearly quite comfortable in all three classes of the republic - Workers, Warriors and/or Philosopher Kings. However, we are not talking about Plato’s Republic. We are speaking about the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the focus is the national instrument - ʽPan’ - and the faith of its community, and culture.

In a When Steel Talks exclusive this passionate, dedicated and highly motivated manager, performing artist, administrator, and panist - Gregory Lindsay - shares his steelband experiences and vision for Pan going forward. 

note: These questions were originally sent to Mr. Lindsay in January 2019. The responses were sent in a few days ago. (August 31, 2021).

WST - “Who is Gregory Lindsay?”

Gregory Lindsay
Gregory Lindsay

Gregory L. - “Manager/Treasurer of Power Stars Steel Orchestra - DELEGATE @ PAN TRINBAGO INC. (circa 2008)”

WST - “When and how did you first become associated with pan?”

Gregory L. - “Since the age of 9 years; I became associated with it through my late father, Lyndon Lindsay; my godfather Mark Trotman, and my uncle Kendal Lindsay from straight outta Belmont, into most things pan-related - short of playing - until I left to study abroad in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I met Trinidad Tripoli the late Hugh ʽBoboy’ Borde, Robert Valentine, Norris George (deceased), Raymond Phipps (deceased), Michael Kerhahan, Dector Scott and Linton Harper from the original Highlanders Steel Orchestra. Much later on, early 2000s, while still away, I met the late Ken “Professor” Philmore through Kevin Bailey. Philmore and Borde had a profound influence on my being involved in the steelband movement as we know it today. When I return home in 2006, Ken went to arrange for Power Stars with Maestro’s ʽFiery’.. I followed him as he went to Sound Specialists during his two most winning years, then Power Stars came calling... the rest is history.”

WST - “Laura Ingraham of Fox News told LeBron James to “Shut Up And Dribble” because he dared to step out of what she perceived as his ʽlane.’ “Shut Up and play yur pan” seem to be the unmistakable message coming from the Trinidad and Tobago government, [then]-Minister Gadsby-Dolly, Pan Trinbago, the NCC [National Carnival Commission], respective steelband management - to even many pan supporters - to the Panorama players. Why is this? And who is responsible?”

Gregory L. - “American philosopher, Dr. Cornel West, opines that “You can’t lead the people if you do not love the people. You can’t save the people if you do not serve the people.” The evidence has demonstrated that successive administrations of Pan Trinbago, have shown no love to the people who are known as players. This particular incumbent administration, year in year out has outdone themselves in the remuneration of outstanding fees to players, and that is just the norm for treatment. Players, Arrangers, Tuners, and manufacturers are the precious life blood of the movement, as we know; the instrument of pan simply does perform by itself. Steelpan performance artists are open to contractual risk; ʽShut up and play your pan’ may paradoxically seem like that is the unmistakable message from coming from the Trinidad and Tobago government, Minister Randall Mitchell, Pan Trinbago, the NCC, respective steelband management - to even many pan supporters - to the Panorama players de Carnival. And after Ash Wednesday come, and the Carnival is over, is hell to get pay. Why is this? Players must know their worth then add a tax....Who is responsible you ask? The judge, jury and executioner of all things Pan; when these elected elephants at Pan HQ start to fight, it is only the Savannah Grass, PLAYERS and unsponsored bands that suffer.”

WST - “Who, if anyone, really represents the interests of the steelband musicians in Trinidad and Tobago?”

Gregory L. - “In my opinion, they are not represented as well as they ought to be. There is no Musician’s Union in this Republic, even though there are prominent examples in other jurisdictions. Accordingly, players are always left hanging out to dry; then, orchestras - unsponsored single pan, to large [orchestras]. The buck stops at the office of the President of Pan Trinbago.”

WST - “In an unprecedented show of action - you and others like Aquil Arrindell, Dane Gulston and others openly and publicly challenged the status quo for immediate change. The result in no short order, was the removal of the past Keith Diaz-administration, and all remnants of the former Pan Trinbago executive from power. Are you satisfied with the results of your endeavors? Was the goal achieved?”

Gregory L. - “Negative, No.”

WST - “At When Steel Talks, one of our mottos is that “One pays dearly for not knowing.” What do you know now, that you wish you had known, say, a few years ago? And how would this have affected actions going forward as it relates to Pan?”

Gregory L. - “I would have gone into agriculture and Agri-Business to fund my orchestra’s Solar Power Green Energy Initiative much sooner; spent less time fighting the established status quo of presidencies of Pan Trinbago tending to act like monarchies at Pan HQ (however selfish that sounds); and spent more time with my orchestra partnering with our private sector, partnering with the orchestra’s members of Parliament; partnered more with the community and organs of state such as the National Commission for Self-Help to assist with improving of facilities using technology that works for us; to innovate, create a space for the youths in my catchment area, to provide guidance for my ʽat-risk, disenfranchised, unmentored unguided youth’ in my zone; also partnered [to] implement a wireless fidelity broadband technology sponsor for our location, so that when the Prime Minister proclaimed during COVID that ʽvirtual school for all’ come September 6, 2021; [that] most of the youths in the westernmost part of Port-of-Spain South constituency, most of my charges who are females, who don’t have residential broadband access, would have an alternative community location to ensure that no youth in this zone is left undone... I might have even advanced the incumbent’s “Pan Trinbagrow” concept to her predecessor. Who knows... Less time as delegate... more time in my vineyard... Nothing before its time. I have learned that hindsight is 20/20, and experience in this movement is the best teacher.”

WST - “The [then]-newly-elected Pan Trinbago administration inherited many crippling disadvantages and a brand that has maybe suffered irreparable damage both locally and globally. Is the [then] newly-elected executive ʽtone-deaf’, and singing in the wrong key?”

Gregory L. - “This Ramsey-Moore presidential administration, was ʽtone-deaf’ to the general membership for the first 18 months of this administration term, after being swept into office imbued by the removal of the past Keith Diaz-administration, and all remnants of the former Pan Trinbago executive from power. After the first 18 months, when the reshuffling was constitutionally done, the administration continued to sing out of key, until the NCC Memorandum of Agreement expired, 10.8 million and 3 years later, the evidence has demonstrated.”

WST - “Is there representation for players? Is there anyone in mind, who is responsible, intelligent, courageous and trustworthy enough to represent the concerns of the players, without conflicts of interest? And why is it the players all get the part of the stick with ʽdoo-doo’ on it?”

Gregory L. - “Malcolm X, intimated a long time ago, “You cannot unite a people, that will not support each other.” Sadly so, the public of players, continue to allow their skill-set to be utilized in a disenfranchised piecemeal approach, without proper representation by a separate body, whose representation is properly seated on Pan Trinbago’s team, who is responsible, intelligent, courageous and trustworthy enough to represent the concerns of the players, without conflicts of interest. Pan Trinbago Inc. is a body corporate, articularised by Act 5 of 1986 in the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, as an association of Bands; not Players. Then again, these measures require constitutional reform and assent via the supreme legislative body of the association, that being the delegate membership.

“With zero statutory meetings being called by the President, and zero will to conduct meetings of the body on ANY social media digital platform (ZOOM etc.), (as utilized during the Social Prosperity Fund’s online fundraising campaigning capabilities evidenced) - the rights of players continue to be invalidated from last to being non-existent for this entire administration. We seem to forget the instrument does not play on its own.”

WST - “Recently the president of Pan Trinbago Beverley Ramsey-Moore was quoted as saying - “Pan Trinbago will no longer have central executive’s members as employees of the organisation.” Is this a means of saving money, or is this a built-in excuse for failure for the executive - in that “You get what you pay for?” Or don’t?”

Gregory L. - “Regrettably, the evidence has demonstrated that with the high level of infighting amongst senior elected officers at the Central Executive Level, was a built-in excuse for failure for this executive - in that “you get what you pay for.” That being said, what the association got with Team Rebuild and Prosperity in Pan, was not change but Exchange, by putting new wine in old wine skins.”

WST - “Beyond the management of “Panorama” does Pan Trinbago serve any other useful purpose for the steelbands of Trinidad and Tobago? If so what, is that?”

Gregory L. - “Sadly so, outside of the Social Prosperity Fund, and all attendant digital platform constructs championed by Education Officer Marcus Ash and his dynamic Youth Team; the President’s performance in not communicating with her constituents, not being user-friendly; not being transparent in providing financials for 3 years to the association’s delegates with impunity - is not the change that the movement voted for in October 2018. COVID-19 or no COVID-19. Therefore, leadership (central & regional level) and management (delegates, managers, captains) are required to coordinate and bring out the best for ALL BANDS in all available resources to the association, under this governing body.”

WST - “Esteemed journalist Sharmain Baboolal, in her articles “Beverley signs up for debt: Queen of $0.00”  and “Pan In Real Danger” paints a far less than rosy outlook of the new administration. Do you agree with this assessment, and if so, what points specifically?”

Gregory L. - “I completely concur with esteemed journalist Sharmain Baboolal’s forecast then and her impending assessment now that this steelband administration at Pan Trinbago is putting Pan in Real Danger, using this high-handed approach, and acting Hog-norant, particularly towards lesser-equipped orchestras; not wanting to be questioned, and becoming completely full of herself towards her constituency body of delegates, towards the advantage of large sponsored bands.”

WST - “Given the way things have begun, might there be a need for a ʽrevolution’ - to your recently-led revolution?”

Gregory L. - “There is urgent need for RE-EVOLUTION by having a ʽREVOLUTION’ to the established status quo at Pan Trinbago. Of ʽtop-down leadership to bottom up’.”

WST - “Do you have any additional thoughts, concerns you would like to share?”

Gregory Lindsay
Gregory Lindsay

Gregory L. - “To lead is to cause someone, or a group of people, or an organisation, to move in a particular direction. This can be achieved by persuasion, appealing to the follower’s good sense, or by coercion, which comes in many forms. Leaders may be formal or informal. An informal leader can influence a group without having a formal position of authority. A formal leader is recognised by those outside of the group as having an official position of authority.

“Leadership is the capacity or skill to move people, or a team, or delegates of this august body known as the World Governing Body for Pan, Pan Trinbago Inc. Managing Pan Trinbago requires both leadership and political acumen. To hold the top political job at the association, a delegate in good organizational standing must be elected. Holding high political office at the association means that the officeholder is a successful politician. That does not mean that the person is a good leader. We need to look no further than recent experience of the predecessor and incumbent high political office holders of the pan association. Why is leadership so important?

“Major religious texts, the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, and the Bible, for example, speak of leadership and identify qualities required of a leader. All emphasise that leaders serve their fellow man and embrace the ideals of self-sacrifice and the greater good. Proverbs (29:18) outlines the importance of leadership in providing direction with the simple statement that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” Indeed, many religious stories are existential challenges which demonstrate how leaders serve their communities. To illustrate:

  1. Noah anticipated the flood and acted even though no one believed it.

  2. Abraham embraced the unknown and the uncertainty by forging a new path to create new opportunity for his people.

  3. Joseph, betrayed by his brothers when the opportunity came, overcame being sold into slavery and was compassionate to his brothers when the opportunity came.

  4. Joshua led by example rather than by command.

  5. Moses saved his people.

  6. David had the conviction and strength to overcome a ʽgiant’ challenge in Goliath.

  7. All had human weaknesses.

“Perhaps because of religious teachings, many delegates of the association faithfully “believe” in the beneficial qualities of these incumbent political pan office holders, even when the evidence clearly and consistently demonstrates the reverse. Nicollo Machiavelli in his political primer “The Prince” provided a more realistic, modern definition of the current incumbent President. Regardless of gender, Machiavelli said the prince should keep faith with the people and should ʽappear’ to be compassionate, kind, and faithful to his word in pursuit of three objectives; to gain power, to retain power and to extend power. Power is the real objective, not performance. In short, political leadership at Pan Trinbago is about manipulating the message so that the voter delegates, single pan to large, believe that this Ramsey-Moore-pan administration, and supposedly all arms of state machinery under the Tobago-born Prime Minister are working for them.

“People seek political office at Pan Trinbago for a variety of reasons;

“But there are significant differences between politics and leadership at Pan Trinbago at both central and regional committee level. To illustrate:

  1. Politicians depend on relationships to achieve goals, whilst Leaders focus on vision and outcomes.

  2. Leaders may also cultivate relationships but focus on tasks and deliver on their promises. In this sense of political loyalty, blinding loyalty to this incumbent president and political leader is often opposed to the national good, as it encourages self-interested and sycophantic followship. Conversely, leaders must be open to alternative perspectives and develop a team approach that encourages personal growth and development particularly for players and moving from the ground up.

  3. Leaders make difficult choices and align with principles and values rather than public sentiment. Politicians always align with popular opinion and tend to over-promise and under-deliver. Leaders do the reverse; under-promise and over-deliver.

“Pan Trinbago, under the hand of President Beverley Ramsey-Moore continues to be in a precariously difficult position. The newly-elected Pan Trinbago administration inherited many crippling disadvantages and a brand that has maybe suffered irreparable damage both locally and globally. Its challenges are both internal and external. The organizational model, fifty years old, has aged, simultaneously with a decline in its major revenue sources and major Carnival events, amid the raging onslaught of health protocols of the COVID-19 pandemic, with unrelenting vigor from March 22, 2019 to now. It needs new skill sets to address a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Meanwhile, the political emphasis is on the big ticket items, of recent mention. This is useful if the supporting mechanisms to maintain them are in place, and they are part of a plan. There are visible manifestations used by incumbent pan politicians to show “progress”. But they neither - over a 3-year-term, with 10.8 Million TTD of taxpayers dollars expended under an expired NCC Memorandum of Agreement signed by the incumbent’s predecessor - [have] shown any form of financial transparency and accountability, nor any early appropriate meaningful work on association sub committees constitutional & land management reform, nor increasing drum exports in non-traditional areas, nor helped solve the association’s perennial cash flow shortage. The important measures, procedural and skill-based, are invisible to the pan delegate electorate. They take time and credit comes late which means that they are not politically useful.

“National success and achievement result from many interlinked factors. These interactions ought to have been coordinated if successful results, to be reelected for another term 2021-2024, were to be achieved. Knowing what President Ramsey-Moore originally wanted to achieve, when and how executive elected officers Carlan Harewood, Gerard Mendez and Dane Gulston planned to get the President’s agenda forwarded, they initially having understanding to the barriers to get there to office and most importantly, taking the necessary required action to get there were the key ingredients to Ramsey-Moore’s original paths to success, to retain and extend her power; with 60 days to go, time will certainly tell.

“Management guru Peter Drucker said that leadership is about doing the right thing and management is about doing things right. If one is to benchmark this incumbent president’s performance against her predecessor; one can argue that if the incumbent does not focus on the right tasks, then no amount of effort can salvage a result; to retain and extend her power. That is why leadership and management, not politics are defining success factors if the world governing body is to truly prosper. Red carpet tra la la, and the Congress of Delegates to this upcoming Tri-Annual Convention and Election of Officers for this electoral term 2021-2024 have to be different. If the power lies with the majority, one has to try to live as the majority does. Not like the minority. In pan politics, dear comrade delegates, we must choose people with big hearts and small pockets. It is quick and easy to tear down a wall, but to build and put up a wall is not so quick and easy. The best rulers of Pan Trinbago are the ones that, when they step down, they leave behind a group of people far better off than themselves.

“This is no ʽfly-by-night’; this is a collective fight, a fight of generations for the future of the movement. All Power to All the People with Pan Moving Forward.

“Respectfully submitted with much thanks for your patience.”

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