Ray Holman - Trinidad and Tobago
Visiting Artist 1998-2000
Steelband performer and arranger Ray Holman, from Trinidad and Tobago, is
one of the most respected and talented proponents of his art form. He
began playing pan (steel drums) in the 1950s with the "Invaders"
steelband, led by the legendary pan tuner Ellie Mannette. Performing on
the "ping pong" (an early version of the tenor pan), he won the
solo competition in the Music Festival of 1960. In 1962, when he was 19
years old, Holman and other young players left to form "Starlift"
steelband, for whom he soon became the arranger.
Ray Holman holds the distinction of being the only arranger who
participated in the first annual Panorama competition, the most important
venue for steelband music, founded in 1963. Due to the complexity of
Panorama music, the arranger plays the most important and prestigious role
in any steelband. With Holman arranging, "Starlift" won the Panorama
competition in 1969. He has since arranged for many of Trinidad's top
steelbands, including "Destination Tokyo," "Pandemonium," "Exodus," "Phase
II Pan Groove," "Hummingbird Pan Groove," and the "Invaders." Despite
radical changes in the musical style of Panorama since its early days,
Holman is still one of the most sought-after steelband arrangers in
In addition to his reputation in Trinidad and Tobago, Ray Holman has
arranged and recorded with steelbands in the United States, including
Oakland-based "Pan Ramajay," and has given numerous workshops in steelband
arranging. He regularly attends the bi-annual steelband tuning and
arranging workshop at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California and
has done presentations at meetings of the Percussive Arts Society.
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