Written by: Tamoy Ashman
Pan yuh mark! Pan yuh set! Go! The highly anticipated World Cup of Steelpan – the NLCB PanoGrama 2021 got off to a blazing start when the competition’s preliminary round, featuring 10 pannists from varying countries, aired live across multiple social media platforms on Friday night.
The first, of three nights of preliminary rounds, started on May 7 and is set to culminate on Sunday, May 9. The first round of preliminaries, hosted by founder Nevin Roach and co-host Aundrea Wharton and featuring steelpan soloists from varying Caribbean countries, the United States and Canada, definitely set the pace of the competition as it captivated the eyes and ears of over 4,000 enthusiasts worldwide, who tuned in to hear the melodic sounds of sweet steelpan music.
The night started at 7:45 pm with a 15 minute countdown to the official start of the show. During this time the audience were treated to the sweet musical juggling of Penthouse 2.0, after which, the event’s anthem, written and composed by Mark Forde and mix and mastered by Tracy Thornton was played. The anthem features the event’s tagline “live, love, play and enjoy”, the mantra on which the event was created.
The first night of preliminaries featured Aquila Pereira (Trinidad & Tobago), Maurisha Potter (Antigua & Barbuda), Mikiel Smith (Grenada), Gabriel Chartrand (Canada), Shovon Brown (Trinidad & Tobago), Carlon Lyons (Trinidad & Tobago), Matthew Kiser (USA), Kevhani Greenaway (Antigua), Charlton Alfonso (Trinidad & Tobago) and Tyeesha Alexander (Trinidad & Tobago).
As the competition got on the way, the audience were treated to top class performances by all 10 performers, however, the final performance by Tyeesha Alexander out of Trinidad and Tobago whose execution of By Any Means by Voice was described by spectators as sweet and rich and definitely the top performance of the night. Her performance filled the live chatroom with flames of excitement and applause. Alexander, the People’s choice awardee for last year’s event, was praised by spectators for her chord progression, contagious energy and overall vibe which left many wanting more. One thing is for sure, Earl Brooks Jr. of Trinidad and Tobago, who is the reigning champion, will have to fend off some stiff competition in defence of his title.
A total of 5 esteemed adjudicators have the difficult task of selecting 20, from the 30 competitors in the preliminaries, for the semifinals. The adjudicators include Professor Liam Teague (Trinidad & Tobago), virtuoso Victor Provost (Us Virgin Islands), Ojay Richards (Trinidad & Tobago), Andy Chichester (Grenada) and David ZigE Walcott (Barbados). The contestants are being judged on their execution, performance, introduction and ending, as well as variations.
Roach was very happy with the start of the competition and made special mention of Leeandro Noray and Rivelino Simmonds for the tremendous work they put in to give the audiovisual delivery of the competition a huge facelift. He noted that "Everyone was commenting on the high quality of the show and that tells me that we are on the right track. The work continues."
This is only the beginning of the NLCB PanoGrama 2021 and if you missed Friday night’s performances, do not be dismayed, you can tune in to the other preliminary rounds on PanoGrama’s Facebook page (facebook.com/pano.grama1), YouTube channel (youtube.com/panograma) and Instagram (instagram.com/pano.grama) where other skilful pannists will be featured. The semi-final of the event is scheduled for May 13 and the finals on May 22. The live stream starts at 7:45 pm AST each night and the action kicks off promptly at 8:00pm AST.
The lineup for the second and third nights of the prelims are as follows:
Jamel Cadette (Trinidad & Tobago), Japhon Barthley (Antigua & Barbuda), Hanif Goodridge (Trinidad & Tobago), Samanya Brazier (Antigua & Barbuda), Douglas Dallaway (England), Detroy Dey (Guyana), Keishaun Julien (Trinidad & Tobago), Shaquille Forbes (Trinidad & Tobago), Leroi Simmonds (US Virgin Islands) and Dejean Cain (Trinidad & Tobago)
Andre Forde (Barbados), Megan-Leigh Langton-Attang (Trinidad & Tobago), Mathieu Borgne (France), Demetre Samuel (Antigua & Barbuda), Vivian Williams (Trinidad & Tobago), Al Alexander (St. Lucia), Deja Cain (Trinidad & Tobago), Kion Robinson (Trinidad & Tobago), David Yundi (US) and Earl Brooks Jr. (Trinidad & Tobago).