PanMotion sails promisingly through the virtual steelpan ocean

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

Written by: Sandra L Blood


With the Leeward Island’s Antigua and Barbuda national insignia prominently flashing on a big-screen television in a living room setting, it told the world, get ready, something good is about to happen within that space from that corner of the globe.


It turned out to be one of the young pan artistes from the 440 square-kilometre, 99,286 populated twin-island, gearing up to perform at the first PanMotion virtual concert – a product of the Panograma Pan Event Productions on June 11, 2020.

Amarni Gomes, finalist at the first International virtual pan competition – Panograma – a Solo Edition hosted out of Barbados on Facebook in April, warmed up viewers with fifteen minutes of listening pleasure by way of the tune, Sound of Steel, played by an Antiguan Steel Orchestra, Hells Gate.

Attired in modern-styled, stone-washed, distress jeans and long-sleeve African-printed top, Gomes introduced himself at 8pm, sharp; thanked those locked on…also stating, “I’m not only eternally grateful to my family, but also to be able to share this instrument with each and every one,” assuring of a good evening of a mixed genre of music.

His programme started on a Spanish flavour with an Enrique Inglesias tune, Bailamos, then swung into the soothing rendition of Bill Wither’s Lovely Day, then George Benson’s Breezin.

And as the world reels under a ribbon of discomfort and confusion requiring a ribbon of love and brilliance like sunshine, the Stevie Wonder’s Ribbon in the Sky and Bill Wither’s Ain’t no Sunshine, wrapped up the first of three segments.

PanMotion is not only aimed at showcasing pannists’ talent, but “it also stands in solidarity with the #blacklivesmatter movement,” reports director of Panograma and promoter of PanMotion, Nevin Roach, thus, in hoping the world resumes to majority ordinary and loving people, Gomes opened his second segment with John Legend’s Ordinary People, followed by the Bee Gees’ How Deep is Your Love.

This segment also contained some reggae and dancehall music.

Focused on ‘black’, black-influenced songs “to bring awareness of the power of black and pride to black lives,” ushered in his third segment. Delivered were, Black is Beautiful by Chronixx (Jamar Rolando McNaughton), Black Love by Masego (Micah Davis) and, Lift Every Voice and Sing, a song known worldwide as the Negro Anthem, bringing Gomes to a spiritual high.


Included, too, were, Iron by T&T’s soca artiste Nailah Blackman and Savannah Grass by Kes Dieffenthaller.

The show eventually ended back home with Gomes’ statement, “I am so happy that nobody can ever run me from here,” dedicating the final tune to everyone of colour around the world, Nobody Go Run Me, sung by vintage Antiguan and Barbudan calypsonian Lord Short Shirt (Sir MacLean Emanuel).

With the brand message, Bringing the Motion in the Steelpan Ocean, promoter Roach takes cognizance that other virtual pan concerts are already sailing in the ocean.

Roach elaborates, “It’s great to see everyone contributing to the upkeep of a vibrant steelpan community,” citing the events as vital now, given the state of people’s mind, “as music soothes the soul.”

Noted across the board, however, is that these concerts present a consistent esteemed calibre of music ‘to the world’ without sponsorship of all, seeing artistes not remunerated to even upkeep their instrument/s, performing décor, or their technical personnel.

Scheduled to perform at the second PanMotion concert tabled for the 18th, is Barbados’ pannist of 10 years, Hashim Durant, 22. Durant, who completed his Associate Degree in music at the Barbados Community College, has performed at numerous events around Barbados, mesmerising his audiences with his passion and versatile repertoire.

Performances by different pannists will take place every Thursday for one hour from 8pm on Panograma’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pano.grama1).

Except for formal black clothing and judges’ gowns, the world has, thus far, continued to step quite hard on black, including, on pan, which was born out of the black Africans’ diaspora; it continues to be used by all, yet reap no worthy monetary value, and while the Black Lives Movement has attracted many non-Blacks, black poses the question to the world from the Bee Gees tune:

“How deep is your love, how deep is you love? I really mean to learn 'Cause we're living in a world of fools Breaking us down, when they all should let us be We belong to you and me.”