By way of a proposal, Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore hopes to have an even bigger celebration for next year’s World Steelpan Day and, if she gets her wish, have some of the countries that supported the resolution visit TT.
Ramsey-Moore, Pan Trinbago executives, eleven single pan bands and citizens started the day’s celebrations on Friday. World Steelpan Day is annually observed on August 11.
The occasion has been celebrated by the Pan Trinbago for years but this was the first year it has been officially recognised as such by way of a UN declaration passed on July 24. Moldova, Peru, Maldives and Belgium were among the co-sponsors to the resolution.
Speaking at the World Steelpan Day celebration in Woodford Square on Friday evening, Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell said the steelpan was TT's symbol of excellence. He said the ministry also had plans in place for next year's celebrations.
"In 2024, the ministry, in collaboration with Pan Trinbago and its other stakeholders, will prepare early for a Festival of Steel to be celebrated around Steelpan Day, which will incorporate a convention of steelpan where we bring people from all over the world who are interested in steelpan to discuss the future of steelpan – the tuning, the education, the trade in steelpan. And, of course, we will celebrate in all our panyards and in all our performing spaces."
Mitchell said young people would be encouraged to become more involved in steelpan. He encouraged citizens and those in the diaspora to push steelpan globally.
Earlier, standing in Massy All Stars panyard as Jah Roots Steelband played Olatunji’s Engine Room in the background, Ramsey-Moore said the day’s activities (up to 4 pm on Friday) showed pan was on a positive note.
“I felt a bit overwhelmed because we were at the birth place of pan – as they say, behind the bridge (Piccadilly Street) – where pan actually was born.
“To see so many of the single-pan bands which were the pan-round-the-neck bands, which we call the nucleus of the organisation, it was a moment to behold.
“If we have started off on such an excellent note, can you imagine what is going to take place this afternoon in the square (Woodford Square).”
Ramsey-Moore said she saw the day as being one that could drive TT’s festival tourism and bring visitors to the country.
“Trinidadians and Tobagonians love their pan and as long as we make the call they are coming out to support their culture. It is the rhythm of the people; I see the soul of the nation as steelpan.
“I am happy to see the impact we are having on the community,” she added.
She said she intended to put forward a proposal to have a grander celebration on the day.
“We are going to put forward a proposal where we are going to look at the educational aspect and we are also going to look at festival tourism in a very positive way.
“Imagine global acceptance, countries that have never even heard of that signed on and supported the resolution. It is our business now to reach out to those countries and to invite them and their citizens to come into our space and enjoy steelpan among our loving people.”
The day began at 12 pm with St Ann’s World Wide Steel Orchestra playing Olatunji’s Engine Room, one of the day’s popular choices.
A handful of people looked on and chipped or swayed to the music. Ramsey-Moore, former Culture Minister Joan Yuille Williams and Pan Trinbago executives walked along Piccadilly Street then on to Duke and Frederick Streets and visited each of the eleven single-pan bands stationed under tents along the way.
Pan Angels, Arima Marsicans Steel Orchestra, Royal Stars Symphony, Uni Stars Steel Orchestra, Nostrand Symphony, La Romaine Supervibes, Pan Elites Steel Orchestra, Jah Roots Steelband Chord Masters and D’Original Woodbrook Modernaires were the 11 bands.
Many of the bands played soca or claypso with Engine Room or the late Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste’s Black Man Feeling to Party being popular choices.
Marsicans had the small but appreciative crowd dancing to Baron’s Say Say. Bands like Nostrand and La Romaine Supervibes showed pan’s versatility by playing Abba’s Dancing Queen and Stevie Wonder’s Lately.
Handfuls of people walked with the executives as they visited each band, with the numbers steadily growing as they moved along. It was such a festive atmosphere that it prompted an impromptu chip along Duke Street to Massy All Stars panyard.
Many gathered there and then danced along Duke Street to Frederick Street and then to Woodford Square where the official celebrations began at 5 pm.
(With reporting by Paula Lindo.)