His Excellency Garvin Nicholas, High Commissioner London, pays tribute to one of Trinidad and Tobago’s finest Pan Men.

LONDON, 27 March 2013 -High Commissioner Garvin Nicholas hosted an event to celebrate the legacy of one of Trinidad and Tobago’s finest panmen, Mr Sterling Betancourt at the High Commission, London on 25 March 2013.

Mr. Sterling Betancourt, who received an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for pioneering the Steel Band Movement in the United Kingdom and Europe, launched his CD “Taspo Story” at the event.

Solid Steel Musical Ensemble.

(L_R) Mr. Brian Awang, His Excellency Garvin Nicholas, Mrs Beatrice Betancourt, Mr Sterling Betancourt and his son Mr. Benjamin Betancourt. In the background are members of the Solid Steel Musical Ensemble.

The CD is a tribute to that memorable journey celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) attending the 1951 Festival of Britain.  As His Excellency said

‘A journey made so long ago and which left the UK so much richer musically.’

TASPO was the first steel band to perform in the United Kingdom on 26 July 1951, when the United Kingdom was initially introduced to Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument.

High Commissioner Nicholas advised that Mr Betancourt has been acknowledged as the main steel pan player and tuner responsible for keeping pan alive in the United Kingdom and that he is also one of three remaining members from the band TASPO still in the United Kingdom.

Sterling Betancourt.

Sterling Betancourt. Photo courtesy de.wikipedia.org

He also reminded attendees that Mr. Betancourt was one of the High Commission’s 50th Anniversary of Independence awardees and that as High Commissioner he has acknowledged Mr. Betancourt’s contribution to advancing Trinidad and Tobago’s culture throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.

Mr. Betancourt gave an account of that first journey from Trinidad and Tobago by boat to Great Britain.  The audience laughed when he said that the steelpans were so rusty that the authorities started throwing the steelpans off the boat.

He also said that when they played at the Southbank on that memorable day the English people asked whether it was black magic as they could not understand how such beautiful  songs can be played on rusty drums.

A number of well known leaders in the steel pan movement in the United Kingdom were present together with the Public Relations Officer of La Creole Pan Groove, Mr. Brian Awang. President of Pan Trinbago Mr. Keith Diaz also made an appearance earlier that evening while en route to Sierra Leone.

Live Steelpan music for the evening was delivered by the Solid Steel Musical Ensemble. Follow this and other articles on the TT Facebook page http://ow.ly/juuln