By Latrishka Thomas
Three pannists from Antigua and Barbuda will be competing against 24 other musicians from across the world in the third annual PanoGrama competition.
PanoGrama is an international steelpan competition which takes place in the virtual space each year.
Maurisha Potter, Malik Smith and Jawan Henry are the local talents who will be flying the twin island nation’s flag in this year’s event.
Potter, the current captain of the Panache Steel Orchestra, said that she is “looking forward” to representing Antigua and Barbuda once again.
This is the 30-year-old’s second time entering the contest and this time around she says her desire is to “continue [to] grow as a pannist, as well as to expose what Antigua and Barbuda has to offer, especially as a female pannist, to an international audience”.
The Cassada Gardens resident has been in the pan league for 18 years.
Twenty-one-year-old Smith is an executive member of the Panache Steel Orchestra and has been playing pan since he was around six years old.
The Potters resident told Observer that he is entering the competition because “for quite some time I’ve been in the shadows as a musician. I’ve also questioned my ability to perform publicly and this year I’ve chosen to take the precautions necessary to push me to step outside of the box I’ve been in”.
Henry, who plays with Hells Gate Steel Orchestra, is mostly looking forward to “the experience of being a part of an online competition” and also winning.
The 24-year-old resident of Yorks New Extension says he was not deterred by his defeat last year when he entered but did not make it, while Kevhani Greenaway made it as far as the semi-finals.
This year, a total of 11 countries will be fighting for US$6,000 worth of prizes which include an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas, a brand-new Perfect Steel tenor pan and case, US$1,000 cash, and a private session with world-renowned steel pannist, Professor Liam Teague.
Dr Mia Gormandy-Benjamin and adjunct Professor Victor Provost will have the difficult task of adjudicating the pannists, while Ojay Richards and Andy Chichester stand ready as judges’ substitutes, according to PanoGrama Entertainment.
St Kitts and Nevis and Belize are new to the PanoGrama scene. Their representatives will join pan players from Antigua and Barbuda, Canada, France, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, the USA, and the US Virgin Islands who are vying for the pan championship.
Meanwhile, the reigning champion, Keishaun Julien of Trinidad and Tobago, will not be defending his title.
Julien disclosed that winning PanoGrama “opened the door to many opportunities for which I am eternally grateful. However, for 2022, I’ve decided to focus my energy on other aspects of my brand”.
According to PanoGrama Entertainment “he encourages all participants to be strategic, be creative and, most importantly, to have fun, and looks forward to seeing all the amazing talent”.
The prelims are set for May 6-8, the semifinals on May 29, and PanoGrama will climax on June 12 with the finals.