History in the making

The early history of Trinidad’s steelband movement

An early steelband of the 1940s. Photograph courtesy Kim Johnson

The early history of Trinidad’s steelband movement lives in the memories of hundreds of men, many of whom are now in their seventies. The photographs that illustrate this history lie hidden in their personal photo albums. If that knowledge is not gathered soon, it will disappear. If their accounts are not recorded, and soon, the true history of the steelband movement can never be fully told and the visual records of its early days will be lost. That’s why the National Pan History Project has been set up.

Prospect Press, the sister imprint of Caribbean Beat, is launching a culturally crucial archive of the steelband movement, in conjunction with Pan Trinbago and Dr Kim Johnson, author of Renegades and Descendants of the Dragon.

The Illustrated Book of Pan will be a 250-page full-colour archive containing over 300 photographs and illustrations. Pan Trinbago and the publishers are looking for archival material—photos or illustrations of steelband and steelband mas.

Anyone with such material is asked to make it available by contacting Pan Trinbago, Prospect Press or the author. You can call Kim Johnson (researcher) at (868) 742-0822, Dominique Monteil of Prospect Press at (868) 622-3821 or Melville Bryan of Pan Trinbago at (868) 771-4679.