Two pan stalwarts die this week

Pan pioneer Neville Jules. -
Pan pioneer Neville Jules. -

The Mighty Sparrow sang many years ago:

Every year somebody dear

Give us cause to shed a tear

And mourn for they are gone

Now all that's left is a faint memory

Based on the theme of a strange melody

Still we must think of them

And recall their image with pride

Telling people from deep inside

This is dedicated to those who died

The steelpan fraternity is mourning two pan pioneers who died on Wednesday. They are Neville Jules and Hugh Borde.

Jules, a tuner, player, and arranger, died on Wednesday. He would have turned 93 on May 21. Jules, who gave Trinidad All Stars its name, became captain, tuner and arranger in the early 1940s.

Over the years, he made significant contributions to the development of the pan and is credited with tuning the first bass pan by using a caustic soda drum. He later combined two caustic drums to expand the range of the bass, and also tuned the first "grundig" as a background or guitar pan.

From a Ronald Emrit compilation, the author stated: “During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jules initiated a ritual whereby All Stars would hit the road at J'Ouvert on Carnival day with an interpretation of a classical music selection played to the calypso beat. Invaders, led by Ellie Mannette, followed suit and the selections of each band came to be known as ‘the bomb.’

In the book, Voices of Pan Pioneers of TT, author Von Martin said in the late 40s through to the early 50s, some parents were very comfortable to let their children play “mas” with the band, simply because Jules had a reputation for being firm with his charges and the band never got into fights.

Originally from Laventille, he settled in Mango Rose, at the corner of Piccadilly and Duke Streets as a teenager.

Jules was awarded the Humming Bird Medal (bronze) for steelband music in 1970, a TT Folk Institute Pan Legends award in New York in 2001, and the Chaconia Medal (silver) in 2018.

Steelpan player and arranger Hugh Borde 87, also died on Wednesday.

The St James-born Borde took leadership of the Tripoli steelband in 1951.

Ten years later, the band became a force to be reckoned with in the local landscape, then in 1962, he was part of the national steelband selected to perform at the Commonwealth arts festival in Great Britain.

Borde migrated to the USA in 1976, where he formed a family steelband and continued to perform through the early 2000s.

His awards include the Humming Bird Medal (bronze) for steelband development in 1971, an induction into the Caribbean Sunshine Awards Hall of Fame, as well as the Motown Detroit Metro Music Awards Hall of Fame.

Dane Gulston told Newsday, Trinidad All Stars is working with the Jules family on the funeral which, he said, wouldn’t take place until after Carnival.

Up to press time the Borde family could not be reached for any information on his funeral.


"Two pan stalwarts die this week"

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