Although it's long overdue, living steelband icon Anthony Williams was bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from the University of the West Indies last Saturday, at the St Augustine Campus of the UWI.
The founder of North Stars Steel Orchestra of St James, the band to win the first Panorama championship back in 1963, and the inventor of the Spider Web pan, Williams has been revered by colleagues and the public for more than half century for his innovations in the national instrument and his unique arrangements on pan.
In 1992, Williams received the Chaconia Medal (Gold) and in 2008, he received the Order of the Republic of T&T, the nation's highest award. More recently he also received awards from the producers of the St James WeBeat Live and Woodbrook/St James Community Association.
In related news, the management of Caribbean Airlines Invaders Steel Orchestra held true to their word to deliver the Invaders 75th Anniversary Awards to two of the orchestra's founding members: Elliot "Ellie" Mannette in Osage, West Virginia and Emmanuel "Cobojack" Riley in Brooklyn, New York.
Desiree Myers, music co-ordinator and Michael Dinchong, managing director, travelled to New York courtesy the band's sponsor, Caribbean Airlines, to make these presentations.
Friends and students of the Mannette Music Instruments Workshop in West Virginia hosted a special reception, where Dinchong presented Mannette with the band's award in recognition of his historical contribution towards the formation of the legendary Woodbrook steelband. Mannette also received a copy of the Invaders' history book entitled Invaders Steel Orchestra: The history of a legendary T&T Steelband by Dr Jeannine Remy and Ray Funk.
In his presentation speech, Dinchong remarked that nine years ago the government of T&T declared 147 Tragarete Road, Woodbrook, a national heritage site, and that 147 Tragarete Road has been the untenured home of Invaders since its birth in 1940.
"It was the home of Ellie Mannette and the sacred grounds where many of his inspirations bore fruit under the famous 'breadfruit tree'," said Dinchong.
He added: "This declaration in essence immortalises Invaders Steel Orchestra. It also immortalises the name Ellie Mannette."
Mannette expressed his sentiments of appreciation and was moved by the management's effort to deliver the award to him personally.
In Brooklyn, the reception for Riley was organised by the Invaders' New York Elders. Upon receiving his award from Myers, Riley commended the band's management for recognising his contribution at this milestone in the band's history and stated that it was an honour to receive the 75th Anniversary Award.
Ronald Dennis and Terrance Hinds, two of Invaders' Elders residing in New York, also received their 75th Anniversary Certificate of Appreciation from Myers.The band's management has expressed thanks to Caribbean Airlines for its support in making these presentations a reality.
To end on a sad note, the steelband fraternity has lost another one of its stalwarts. Alfred "Sacks" Mayers departed this life at the age of 82 on Saturday.
He was a bamboo to pan veteran and was the first person to play a triple second tuned by Lincoln Delgado Noel, and is credited with leading the first steelband to Guyana in the late 40s. He was the leader of the Red Army Steelband in the 40s and the Merry Makers Steelband before starting Pandigenous, and had been playing with the band up to the time of his passing.
Mayers' pan-playing skills saw him visiting many countries, including Argentina. One of the first pan musicians to perform on a cruise ship, Mayers was a recipient of the Humming Bird Medal of Merit (Bronze) forhis contribution to steelpan culture. He was also recognised by Pan Trinbago for his dedication and service to the instrument and movement.
Mayers will be laid to rest after a funeral service at Clark & Battoo Funeral Chapel, Tragerate Road, Port-of-Spain, tomorrow, at 8:30 am.Pan Trinbago Inc has extended its condolences to the family and friends of Mayers.
Calypso is also mourning a loss with the passing of calypsonian Gaston "Lord Smiley" Nunes on Monday at his home at Baird Street, Carenage.
This Robin sings sweetly
Juliet Robin will be having her annual Christmas Concert at Kaiso Blues Cafe in Newtown on Saturday, November 5 and showtime is 8 pm. Robin's last concert was her birthday gig at which she gave 17 gifts to people who had a birthday around the same time, and there was her huge birthday cake that everyone got to share.
This time Robin is not holding back and has indicated that it is Christmas, so you never know what can happen. She will be performing her new parang soca song–Happy Business. She composed the lyrics and melody, with music, arrangement, production and mastering by Brian Mitchell, owner of Black Spear Music Studio.
Robin has been very busy in the studio working on several new releases for Carnival 2017 along with Druce Jag Joseph at Black Spear Music Studio. She is also working on releases for summer and Christmas 2017.
For her November 5 concert, Robin has the same lineup of musicians who will be performing with her, including Sean Friday (bass); Tamba Gwindi (percussion); Richard Joseph (drums); Derek Cadogan (keyboards). The newest addition will be guitarist James Jessy Joseph. There will also be exciting surprise guests. Robin insists that people walk with comfortable shoes to dance in. She says guests will be treated to some exciting popular covers of Christmas songs which she has re-arranged, and will also hear some of her original songs.
MORE INFO: Admission is $100 in advance and $120 at the door. For more information, call 723-8883.
She is a happy wanderer
Leah Skeete, better known as DEZii, is a 28-year-old singer/songwriter who launched her first EP (Wanderer), a SupaYouth production (Joshua Salcedo), last Saturday night at Kaiso Blues Cafe.
This talented young lady has been singing for 17 years in everything from school to church choirs, and from recording studios to stages in Los Angeles and Nigeria. In 2007, she represented T&T at the World Championships Of Performing Arts in Burbank, California. In 2010, DEZii held her first concert and has held one every year since.
DEZii's The Wanderer Tour will be held at various venues across Trinidad with its first stop being at The Rush (formerly, Beveca) on November 2, followed by a performance on November 11 at Fiesta Plaza, Movietowne, Port-of-Spain. A date is yet to be confirmed for the finale of The Wanderer Tour at the Big Black Box in Woodbrook.
Artistes billed for The Wanderer Tour include Nailah Blackman; Aaron Ifill; LA Rose (Rosezanna Hernandez Winchester); Tehilla Jones; Mya Scott; Kyle Richardson; Nebula 868; Mark Hardy (Marcus Braveboy) and Yung Rudd (Isaac Rudder); John John (John Francis); and Greg B (Gregory Burris) and Jose Freedom, accompanied by Mikhail Salcedo (pan), Joshua Salcedo (drums) and Darion Dennis (bass).
Also signed to perform are Leigh Tang Wing (keyboards); Anna Roberts (violin); Kemi Ible (guitar); Charlton Alfonso (bass); D'Andre Wilson (bass); and, Adrian Kong (saxophone).
Dezii is described as "versatile and has a mixed reperteroire of jazz-fusion, reggae, pop, EDM and R&B music."