Frontrunner in tomorrow night’s Panograma final, T&T’s Earl Brooks Jr

As was expected, pannists of T&T dominated Thursday night’s Panograma semi-final competition, held on the Instagram platform (@iNEV88).

Fifteen pannists from around the world contested the semi-final and, of the ten from T&T, six have made it into tomorrow night’s final.

Topping Thursday night’s semi-final, a good four points ahead of the competition was Earl Brooks Jnr, performing Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke. Brooks Jnr, the son of renowned pan arranger Earl Brooks Snr, and co-arranger of Hatters Steel Orchestra, amassed 96 of the 100-point total. He was followed by Keishaun Julien who played Marc Anthony’s Vivir Mi Vida.

Third place was secured by Barbados’ Mark Forde, playing Chronixx’s I Can.

Ten of the 15 semi-finalists have been chosen to contest the final, the other seven, and their countries being Kersh Ramsey, DeJean Cain, Kern Sumerville and Tyeesha Alexander (T&T); Isidore “Dow” York (St Maarten); Hashim Durant (Barbados); and, Amani Gomes (Antigua Barbuda).

Performing last on Thursday night, Brooks Jnr, who attended prestigious Berklee College of Music, executed a near-perfect interpretation of his tune of choice, making him a firm favourite to win tomorrow’s title and its US$500 first prize.

Panograma, a first of its kind competition, is the brainchild of Barbados-domiciled, T&T pannist Nevin Roach, a member of Uptown Fascinators Steel Orchestra, winner of this year’s National Panorama (small) title.

Playing pan since he could reach the instrument, and pushed by his father, speaking from his New Jersey residence on Friday, Brooks Jnr said: “In this time of COVID-19, I am happy for this opportunity to express myself in the way I know best to do. I entered the competition to keep my knocks in and to keep the fans entertained. This something good; a good avenue to keep pannists occupied.”

Recently deceased stalwart southern pannist/administrator Michael “Scobie” Joseph would have been proud of his young charge Tyeesha Alexander, of Southern Marines Steel Orchestra, as she is the only female to make it among the ten finalists. She was the only semi-finalist to perform a Lord Kitchener composition (Pan in A Minor) and tied for sixth position with Kern Sumerville. Alexander already knows the taste of victory as she was the winning pannist at last year’s Talent Expression contest.

Speaking with Guardian Media, Roach was effusive in his thanks to sponsors Pan Trinbago Inc, Panman Consultants, E-pan, Stickland Pansticks, Run246, Steelpan Tutor and LCA Designs, Tobago.

Tomorrow’s final begins at 7 pm.