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The Prince of pan

News day / Prince is set to graduate from Berklee in 2021, but needs help to get him there. So through the Joseph Foundation for Youth Arts Development, he’s going to host Dare to Dream IV at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain, on August 13. The proceeds from the show will go toward his studies.

The memory seemed as fresh as when it just happened.

“I got the results on September 15, 2015, and I was in school. The night before, I could not sleep, I was just up. I was telling a friend, ‘Results coming out tomorrow and I don’t want to stress,’ but I was really excited and nervous as I did not know what to expect. I remember when I went to school the results was supposed to come out at four and when I saw four and it did not come out as yet, I was like, ‘Wow.’ Four ten, 4.15, nothing. So I called and said I did not get my results as yet. They said, ‘Oh yeah it coming right now.’ When I checked again it was there and when I opened it and saw, ‘Congratulations,’ I could not believe it. When I clicked again and saw that I had gotten a partial scholarship, I was like, ‘Thanks to God’,” he said.

Prince first attended Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive for two years and then transferred to Woodbrook Secondary where he finished forms three to five, and did music at the CXC level. After graduating, he attended the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT ), gaining arts diploma in music performance in two-anda- half years. He graduated in November 2015. That same year he got his results for Berklee, so when he graduated in November, he left TT on December 28, a month early, to settle in.

Prince, who lives at River Estate, Diego Martin has loved pan and wanted a music career since he began playing pan at Diego Martin Boys’ RC. He said initially his hobbies were football and music. But at eight, when he began playing with Merry Tones Steel Orchestra, music got the nod. At that time arranger for Merry Tones Kendell Lewis would teach the school’s young students, and it’s Lewis whom Prince credited with giving him the strong musical foundation he has today.

“Kendell Lewis was my first steelpan teacher and he was the one who showed me all the fundamentals and all the starting-off basics of playing the steelpan. He was the one that really helped me in my true development with the steelpan.” Although no other member of his immediate family is musical, Prince said his parents, Martin and Karen Prince, constantly supported and fostered his love for pan and music.

“My parents always pushed and supported me in going further and further with my music.

They would take time out of their schedule to drop me to music class every Saturday, drop me to lessons, sign me up for different exams, buy the instruments I needed. They always gave of their time.” Being at Berklee has not only fulfilled one of Prince’s dreams but led him to “jam” with other artistes such as Beyonce’s original all-female band, Cirque du Soleil’s drummer Andre Boyd and John Legend’s musical director Eugene “Man Man” Roberts.

He has also performed in several US cities such as like Nashville, Philadelphia and Boston.

Prince hopes to demonstrate to the US and the rest of the world that the pan is more than capable of playing anything. Ultimately he plans to network pan and truly showcase it in the US.

“I also plan to give back to TT as well as my main aim and philosophy is to never forget where I have come from and to always give back.” He wants one day to have the pan in different gigs, shows, music schools and academies across the US while opening workshops and schools in TT .

A tenor pannist, he favours jazz, jazz fusion and gospel. His show will include a mixture of music, calypso, jazz, gospel, R&B and pop.

The show will feature performers such as Nehilet Blackman, May Scott, Nathaniel Hamilton, Vanessa Briggs, John John Francis and Gerelle Forbes. Anthony Woodruff, Rodney Alexander, Ron Clarke, Eric Fellis, Joshua Salcedo, Dillon Jacob, Andell Jerome, Joshua Khan and Ajibola Sheena Richardson will comprise the band. Tickets cost $250.

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