Pannists, artistes need help to travel

Promoters Association president Jerome
Promoters Association president Jerome "Rome" Precilla. -

PANNISTS and singers need help to showcase their music abroad, Parliament's Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Independent Senator Dr Maria Dillon-Remy, heard on May 15 at the Cabildo Building in Port of Spain.

Promoters Association president Jerome "Rome" Precilla, attending virtually, lamented that some soca artistes experience problems getting visas to go abroad to perform.

He asked for help from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and the US Embassy.

Saying it was particularly the younger soca artistes who faced visa challenges, he called for an initiative to educate them about the system in the US, where American promoters must support the application. Precilla used the occasion to lament a lack of structure in the local soca scene.

'We don't have an industry; we have a hustle."

He said artistes recorded their songs and simply hoped they got a lot of airplay and popularity.

"All man for themselves. You figure it out on your own," he lamented.

He said many artistes have good songs but can not get visas, as he urged collaboration in these efforts by the ministries and US Embassy.

Precilla urged an initiative for artistes to be deemed cultural ambassadors for Trinidad and Tobago to help their visa applications.

"Have a programme in place to help these people, because they are flying the flag for us globally."

He said soca star Nailah Blackman has been recognised by New York City, but not by Trinidad and Tobago.

TUCO President Ainsley King did not think his members who sing calypso had visa problems as voiced by Precilla. Yet he supported Precilla's call for cultural ambassadors, saying Antigua and Barbuda issued diplomatic passports to its artistes.

He hailed early calypsonians who spent 13 days in a boat to travel abroad to record calypsoes, as he regretted the "historical mistake" of the State never having funded them in that.

Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore lamented the cost of paying to transport steelpans abroad when steelbands went on tour. She asked whether instruments for a steelband ensemble could be permanently set up in Europe.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Reita Toussaint said earlier on Wednesday that the idea had been discussed in her ministry, as she promised to reach out to Pan Trinbago.

King did not think his members who sing calypso had visa problems as voiced by Precilla.

Naparima MP Rodney Charles recalled Lord Invader's Rum and Coca-Cola enjoyed worldwide acclaim when re-recorded by the Andrews Sisters, but suggested that, in contrast, calypso had limited popularity due to its parochial political themes. King agreed. He said the current types of calypso were composed for the local market and its competitive nature.

"If we have to go global we have to look at our content."


"Pannists, artistes need help to travel"

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