Two nationals advance to the semis of virtual pan competition

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Malik Smith has been playing pan since he was six years old. Maurisha Potter has been a part of the pan fraternity for 18 years
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By Carlena Knight and C. Phillips

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For the first time in the country’s history, two Antiguan and Barbudan pannists have made it into the semifinals of the third annual Panograma competition.

Thirty-year-old Maurisha Potter and 21-year-old Malik Smith — both members of the Panache Steel Orchestra — received the nod to be listed among the top 20 pannists who advanced after showcasing their skills in the preliminaries on May 6, May 7 and May 8 via Youtube.

Three participants withdrew for personal reasons, including Antigua and Barbuda’s Jawan Henry, Kraig Bisnott of Jamaica, and Miguel Bougouneau of the US Virgin Islands.

The reigning champion, Keishaun Julien of Trinidad and Tobago, will not be defending his title.

Music lovers watched and listened intently as 24 steelpan musicians delivered songs of their choosing.

Each participating pannist played their own arrangement of their tune of choice, and was judged on criteria that included variations, execution and performance. In keeping with event rules, performances were allowed to be between three, and four and a half minutes in length.

Smith, who is the treasurer of Panache and a music teacher at the Antigua Grammar School (AGS), performed a special rendition of the song ‘Best Part’ by Daniel Caesar and H.E.R., while Potter, who is the current captain of Panache and a clerk within the Establishment Department, played ‘Say Say’ by Baron.

Smith said he was “pleased” to receive the news.

“I was very pleased to have heard that I progressed to the semifinals as a representative of my country in such a competition,” he said.

The AGS alumni revealed that it was his friends who initially influenced him to participate in this year’s event.

“I’ve always downplayed my capabilities and they would continuously remind me that I’m talented and should try to do more,” the Potters New Extension resident explained.

Smith said the goal is to build his confidence as a soloist “while networking with musicians from around the world” during this competition, and to “make Antigua and Barbuda proud”.

Meanwhile Potter, a graduate of Christ the King High School (CKHS), said she “felt accomplished” in making it to the semis, especially as one of the two females who advanced.

Three females overall participated in the event.

This is the second time that the Cassada Gardens resident is taking part in the event.

This, she mentioned, was the driving force in her participating this year.

“I can be an example to everyone that we should never give up and to turn our failures into growth. Plus, my patriotism and desire to showcase what Antigua and Barbuda has to offer influenced me to take part,” she added.

This year, a total of nine countries will be competing for US$6,000 worth of prizes to 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.

The competition began in April 2020 when history was made as the event became the first-ever online steelpan competition.

PanoGrama 2022 will be streamed on YouTube and those interested in watching the shows can join PanoGrama’s mailing list via www.pano-grama.com to receive show links via email.

The semifinals will take place on May 29, before the finals on June 12.

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