We invite local Carnival Pioneers to talk about the importance of being 'on the road'.
A discussion with local carnival pioneers
Debby Romain first learnt to play pan at the age of 9. In 1994, she became the first British female Band Leader/Arranger to compete in the UK National Panorama. Between 1999 and 2007 she was part of Mangrove Steel Band's education programme. During this period she was also the Arranger for Mangrove's Junior Band achieving seven consecutive Junior Panorama titles and numerous TV and other appearances including BBC, ITV & Disney Channel, requested performances for the Dioceses of Trinidad and Tobago. Mangrove was runners up in 2006 BAS Pan Explosion Competition. Debby is currently the Arranger for Stardust Steel Orchestra.
Debra 'PanDiva' Romain is a Steel pan Vocalist from the UK. Debra is of Trinidadian decent and has played Pan for 30 years, taught pan for 20 yrs. Debra arranges for several UK Bands including Mangrove Steel band and Stardust Steel Orchestra. She is the Musical director of Cambridge University Steel Orchestra and the All Female Women of Steel.
Matthew Phillips is the Director ofLondon Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, he has been running Carnival for the last two years, prior to that he was the general manager of the Carnival Villiage Trust, based at the Tabernacle. Matthew also leads Mangrove Steelband are one of the longest standing steelbands in Europe and this year’s winner at Panorama. More than just a musical entity, Mangrove Steelband is steeped in a rich and significant social and political history of Notting Hill.The band established itself in 1980, on the famed All Saints Road, Notting Hill, by Trinidadian migrants determined to have an outlet for their cultural heritage, which was actively suppressed by the racism and lack of opportunity indicative of the time.
Carnival Arts Specialist, Carl Gabriel, was born in Trinidad, and came to London in 1964. While working as a specialist sheet metal worker, he trained in photography and moved into a career as a photographer. He was involved with Pan early on with carnival as a pan player with Ebony Steel Band, and went on to co found Star Dust Mas a creating his own Mas Band, Misty Carnival Club.
Carl Gabriel is now a full time Carnival Artist, specialising in wire-formed sculptures that are presented not only at Carnivals across Britain, but widely in other large scale festival events, such as Divali celebrations in Trafalgar Square.
Carl began to build up an archive of Carnival from 1973. With his skilled photography he documented the Mas and the Pan Bands each year. He also started to make carnival art. Carl has also sculpted large pieces for Diwali and St Patrick’s Day in West London, and for the Mayor’s Thames Festival.
Carl Gabriel’s educational workshops on Carnival Arts have been well received. Carnival Arts help to develop the key skills of Design and Technology in the schools curriculum. While building the structures, students work on measurements, angles and other aspects of geometry. They consider shape and balance, the use and properties of different materials, and the control of the wire by bending and forming.
He is widely esteemed for his educational outreach work and has exhibited his work in Galleries and museums. He has already collaborated with the Victoria and Albert and Science Museums in London and continues to develop the profile of carnival arts in these major national institutions.