SANDRA L BLOOD
Three years ago, the visionary Tobagonian Nevin Roach showcased ingenuity during the challenging heights of the COVID-19 lockdowns, which gave rise to the world’s first online steelpan competition designed for soloists, titled PanoGrama.
Roach, a pannist himself, said he sat at his home and thought deep after realizing the world came to a standstill. The entertainment sector was shut down and there were many concerned and depressed pannists with their personal pans in their personal space, but who could have neither performed at in-person shows nor rehearse in the panyards and there was a virtual platform waiting to be used as capitalized by other types of musicians, so, he reached out to a few pannists, converted part of his home into an online production studio, and there, PanoGrama premiered on April 24, 2020.
Roach recalled the inaugural event having attracted thousands of Instagram viewers and popularity heightened in subsequent years. Now, he’s set to receive the 2024 Young, Gifted & Black (YGB) Entrepreneurial Award for Caribbean Artistic Development.
“At its core, PanoGrama is a testament to the power of simple yet innovative ideas,” Roach apprised. “The competition united the international steelpan community. It provided a platform to showcase exceptional talents.
PanoGrama’s impact extended far beyond entertainment, and became a highly-anticipated event in T&T. I expanded the competition to encompass holistic development. International television deals were secured, reaching a potential audience of over one million, and also, professional relationships with institutions such as the Caribbean School of Media and Communication that offered internships to students, were forged.”
Roach explained that collaborations with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Government of the Bahamas on development projects further highlighted his commitment.
Roach said he’s extremely humbled and feels truly honored.
“This instrument that I love, embodies the shared history of the Caribbean and holds the potential to address pressing societal issues, particularly among the youth. I will continue to make a positive contribution. Thanks to the awards’ organizers, PanoGrama team members, and everyone on this journey. Special thanks to T&T for all the love.”
PanoGrama has showcased extraordinary talent from T&T, across the Caribbean, and around the world. T&T’s Earl Brooks Jr. won the inaugural event, with Keishaun Julien claiming the title in the second staging. Other notable participants from the twin island state include Shaquille “Flogo” Forbes, Tyeesha Alexander, and Kersh Ramsey, among others. France’s Mathieu Borgne secured the title in the competition’s last staging.
PanoGrama demonstrated the true versatility of pan as competitors offered a mix of jazz, soca, gospel, reggae and calypso, among others, and the superb quality of talent attracted adjudicators Prof Liam Teague, Dr Mia Gormandy-Benjamin, Victor Provost, Andy Chichester and Ojay Richards.
Roach will be honoured next year during America’s Black History Month alongside other honourees. Past honourees include Bunji Garlin, Fay Ann Lyons, and Buju Banton.