KEISHAUN JULIEN stormed past nine other pannists to take the top title is this year's NLCB PanoGrama competition. Julien, who is from Tobago, played Designer's Pan By Storm and beat defending champion Earl Brooks Jr into fourth place at the May 22 online final. The international virtual pan competition has gained wide popularity since its start last year during the height of the covid19 pandemic. The competition was founded by Nevin Roach in response to the hole left in the entertainment sector when it was shut because of the pandemic. This year the preliminaries took place from May 7-9 and the semi-finals on May 13. A media release said Julien,"played his way to victory with a rendition of Pan by Storm, that was entertainingly supported by the ambiance of his storm-themed presentation, whilst being cheered on by his many fans online."Julien won with 93.2 points. Trinidad's Dejean Cain and Tyeesha Alexander came second and third respectively with 92.4 and 92.2 points, in a tight finish for the top three winners.
"Julien, who finished eight in the semi-finals, made what many described as a remarkable comeback with his rendition of Pan by Storm by Designer. "He complimented the title of his piece with a creative backdrop depicting the events of a storm in which he was the lone survivor among his nine other competitors, foreshadowing his win," the release said. Julien, who began playing pan 16 years ago with Tobago's Our Boys Steel Orchestra, is no stranger to the online environment. He has been doing pan covers for years on YouTube and has accumulated over three million views.
He participated in Panograma last year and placed fourth. This year he reversed the tables with defending champion Brooks Jr.
The full-time pan musician/entrepreneur and arranger also conducts online music classes with students from all over the world. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Musical Arts from the University of the West Indies.
Julien has also toured and played pan in places such as France and Belgium and did solo performances in other countries.
He said pan changed his life and outlook and he has inspired many young and older people in the industry.
For Julien, the competition has been a good experience that allowed him to network with other steelband people throughout the world.
Topping the competition has earned him a trip to Canada where he will perform at the Sons of Steel Concert (usually held in July but might be amended because of the covid19 pandemic), US$1,000, a virtual session with world-renowned pannist Victor Provost, an Augustus Peter Steelpans Chrome Low C Tenor Pan package, and an appearance fee.Second-placed Cain won US$800 cash and a virtual session with Provost while the third-place winner Alexander will receive US$500 cash as well as a virtual session with Provost. All finalists will receive an appearance fee partly sponsored by Pan Trinbago, the release said. France's Mathieu Borgne – despite leading in the prelims and semi-finals – placed fifth. The event featured many surprises including the performance of the PanoGrama anthem by writer and composer Mark Forde. "The anthem was also mixed and mastered by the US's Tracy Thornton and marked the official beginning of each event," the release said. Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore addressed the PanoGrama viewership and spoke about how the covid19 pandemic affected the pan industry and praised Roach "for his continued efforts and contributions to steelpan."Professor Liam Teague, David ZigE Walcott, Provost, Ojay Richards, Andy Chichester and Kenrick Noel (substitute) were the competition's judges. Competitors also benefited from the expertise of Teague, pannist Natasha Joseph and Stephon Campbell.
The event gained a viewership of over 10,000 from its May 7 start to May 22 end. There was a viewership of 5,000 for the final across Facebook and YouTube. Reflecting on the competition Roach said he was happy to cross the finish line with this year’s edition of PanoGrama.
“To everyone who played a role and supported, thank you. My team and I look forward to more improvements, growth and increased participation next year...” Roach said.
The competition can be viewed at: youtube.com/panograma
Here are the winners:
1. Keishaun Julien (TT) - 93.2 points - Pan by Storm, Designer
2. Dejean Cain (TT) - 92.4 points - Conga, Gloria Estefan
3. Tyeesha Alexander (TT) - 92.2 points - A Night in Tunisia, Dizzy Gillespie
4. Earl Brooks Jr (TT) - 91.6 points - People Make the World go Round, The Stylistics
5. Mathieu Borgne (France) - 89.6 points - If it's Magic, Stevie Wonder6. Andre Forde (Barbados) - 89.2 points - Give it to Ya, Marzville
7. Hanif Goodridge (TT) - 84.6 points - Caribe, Michael, Camilo
8. Charlton Alfonso (TT) - 77.8 points - Year for Love, Voice 9. Jamel Cadette (TT) - 76.4 points - September, Earth, Wind & Fire 10. David Yundi (US) - 75. 8 points - Tender, Patrice Roberts
Special AwardsBest Dressed - Tyeesha Alexander (TT)People’s Choice - Tyeesha Alexander (TT)