Written by: Tamoy Ashman
Edited by: Jaydene Thomas
The NLCB PanoGrama international steelpan competition, which kicked off on May 7 with 30 pannists from around the world, is now down to 10. This comes after 20 creative and talented pannists showcased their musical prowess through nail-biting performances during the semifinals, which were held on May 13.
Fans and newcomers who tuned in to the show were treated to an onslaught of amazing talent, pomp and pageantry. The 20 semifinalists pulled out all the stops to ensure that viewers were left on the edge of their seats after each performance, whilst being cheered on by fans, music enthusiasts and their fellow countrymen. The panel of esteemed adjudicators were in a non-enviable position during the semifinals as they made their selections. This was evident from the colourful commenting online and the closeness in the scores awarded to each competitor by the adjudicators for the top 10 spots.
Pannist Mathieu Borgne of France who lead the pack after the preliminaries, also came out on top in the semifinals with 92.6 points, followed closely by Dejean Cain (T&T) with 92 points, Tyeesha Alexander (T&T) with 91 points, Jamel Cadette (T&T) with 89.6 points and Earl Brooks Jr. (T&T) with 87 points. The pannists who secured the remaining spots in the finals include Hanif Goodridge (T&T) with 86 points, David Yundi (USA) 84.2 points, Keishaun Julien (T&T) with 83.8 points, Charlton Alfonso (T&T) with 83.6 points and Andre Forde (Barbados) with 83.4 points. View full results.
Reeling from the effects of the preliminaries, host Nevin Roach and co-host Aundrea Wharton both wore wigs paying homage to how creative the performers have been throughout the competition. Roach made mention of the fact that the presentation and costumes of pannists such as, Gabriel Chartrand from Canada, who wore a pirate costume in the preliminaries, was so good, that they too wanted to be a part of the action.
As spectators laughed and ignited the chat box with comments showing their amusement, they were reminded that they have an opportunity to vote for the Best Costume and People’s choice award by visiting pano-grama.com/vote to cast their votes for their favourites.
The night of competition started with a smooth and mellow rendition of Summertime by Childish Gambino by the reigning champion Earl Brooks Jr. His performance set the tone for the night, which was filled with high hitters from start to finish. Performances from Mikiel Smith, who played Get in Yuh Section by Little Natty and Thunda and paid homage to the jab culture in his country, Grenada had viewers dancing and dropping flames in the comment section online. Other notable performances came from Deja Cain, with her rendition of Feel the Love by Freetown Collection and Charlton Alfonso who played Dear Promoter by Voice and Kes as well as Leroi Simmonds who played a rendition of Bob Marley’s Jammin and Detroy Dey who played Toxic Love by Ricardo Drue and Patrice Roberts.
Some viewers would say the shock element of the night was when Shaquille Forbes of Trinidad and Tobago did not make it into the finals. Forbes’ execution of Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston left many dancing in the live chat room. His performance was described by many viewers as spectacular. Forbes, known for his wigs throughout the competition, wore a huge afro wig and paired it with a disco outfit which gave the desired glistening effect for his performance. Towards the end of his performances, spectators were treated to the smooth moves of a couple who danced in the background as Forbes performed.
When Forbes did not make it into the finals, it was seen as an indication to many of just how stiff the competition was as many believed he captured the tagline of the event live, love, play and enjoy. Forbes and the other eliminated pannists won’t leave the competition empty handed as all semi-finalists will get a promotional copy of the number one Steelpan app Gold which allows pannists to play virtually.
The 10 finalists will be competing for a grand prize of US$1,000, an all-expenses-paid trip to Canada to perform for the Sons of Steel concert, a virtual session with steelpan virtuoso Victor Provost, an appearance fee and an Augustus Peters Steelpans Low C Tenor Pan package. Pannists placing 2nd and 3rd will go home smiling as they will receive US$800 and US$500 respectively and a virtual session with Provost.
The positive effects of the NLCB PanoGrama extends beyond the pannists as founder and host Nevin Roach announced last night that they will be making donations to two charitable causes. These include the Social Prosperity Fund started by Pan Trinbago which assists vulnerable families, supporters and struggling pannists as well as the St. Vincent pan association to help with the relief efforts after the island’s volcanic eruption. Roach stated that one of his main aims for starting the steelpan competition was to assist struggling pannists during a pandemic and so he is happy to announce that they will once again be donating to such a cause. Roach also made special mention of Rodney Small of St. Vincent who has been working with his team to assist residents of the island wherever possible.
You too have an opportunity to lend a helping hand by making a donation via one of the available facilities. Those in Trinidad and Tobago can make donations through RBC Royal Bank (the account number is 110000004448249, Swift Code RBTTTTPX. Residents of Barbados can make donations through the CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (account number 1001205121, Swift code FCIBBBBB). International supporters can donate through the FundMeTnT - NLCB PanoGrama using the website http://fundmetnt.com/campaign/nlcb-panograma, or through PayPal using http://paypal.me/inev88.
Roach along with his co-host Aundrea Wharton pledged to allocate a value to each new like, follow and subscription to the NLCB PanoGrama’s Facebook page (facebook.com/pano.grama1), Instagram (@pano.grama) and YouTube channel (youtube.com/panograma), to make their donations.
PanoGrama Entertainment thanks the National Lotteries Control Board of Trinidad & Tobago, Pan Trinbago, Augustus Peters Steelpans, R Smith Creations, Emineo Caribbean, Co-operators General Insurance Ltd, Sons of Steel, Pan Arts Network, E-Pan, #1 Steepan App GOLD, iNev88, Music Jym, Pan Podium, Run246, Perfect Steel, EnSoul Music Designs, Mallet Man, Leetech Media Ltd and Penthouse 2.0.