The contributions of the late pan extraordinaire Bobby Mohamed will be well documented in an upcoming book, said San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello as relatives and friends said farewell to the musical pioneer on Tuesday.
But while only a handful of relatives and friends attended the pandemic funeral at Guides Funeral Home, thousands viewed the service on a live Youtube feed.
In paying tribute to Mohammed, Regrello said he was instrumental in shaping the styles of every southern pan arranger over the past few decades.
“He won the national Steelband competitions, capturing two Panorama titles in 1965 and 1967. He also made history as the youngest arranger, at age 22 years, to win the Panorama title,” Regrello said.
Because of his contribution and dedication to pan, Regrello said a street running parallel to Harris Promenade was named in Mohamed’s honour two years ago.
“Bobby lives in every steelpan. His style can be detected in every southern arranger. He transformed the Steelband landscape for it was him who moulded the styles from Tru-tones in Princes Town to Valley Harps in Penal,” Regrello said.
He also said that Bobby’s work will be well documented in the history of steelpan, noting that at the age of 22, he was T&T’s arranger for the national instrument.
“In November of 2010, the San Fernando City Corporation declared the period up to November 2021 as the Year of the Arts and we commissioned Dawad Philip to write the history of Pan, Mas and Calypso in San Fernando. Bobby’s work will be well documented and will serve as a major reference point for pan lovers here and in the diaspora as well as universities and other educational institutions,” Regrello said.
Meanwhile, Mohamed’s daughter Michelle recalled growing up and seeing her father’s trophies and awards everywhere.
“I never really paid much attention to them. I barely even knew what they were for. They just seemed to follow him wherever he went,” she recalled. She said some of his memorabilia had disappeared.
“My father’s innocence and naivety were probably what made him become extraordinary. He knew no limits. At the same time, it was what made him easy prey for those who did not protect his honesty and his gentleness,” she said.
“Much of his own true emotions he would downplay…especially if it was a negative emotion toward someone. Many of his memorabilia have disappeared. He trusted many because he himself was so trustworthy. And the truth is that sometimes artistes like himself with his childlike personality can be easily influenced and be advantaged,” she said.
She added that her father never cared for wealth or even fame or fortune.
“Peace of mind was what he needed and doing what he was passionate about, with all of his heart. My dad was a man who, despite his need for isolation, still needed to remain lovingly connected to the people he loved and to those who loved him,” she added.
Representative of Pantrinbago Whitfield Weekes said Mohamed gave freely of his time and trained youths without charge.
“Bobby won a lot of titles other than the national title. He was the South Panorama Champion from 1964 to 1967. He placed second in 1969. He excelled at the Music festival, winning the national title in 1966 and 1964. When Hatters wanted to regroup in 1967, Bobby gave Hatters a whole set of pan so they could have gone to Panorama in 1968,” he recalled.
He said Mohamed taught music in Presentation College and St Joseph Convent and was a great inspiration to many.
“He helped Truetones of Princes Town. It was his giving spirit that resonated with me the most,” Weekes recalled.
Mohamed, who was suffering from kidney failure, died around 2 am last Saturday at the San Fernando General Hospital.