Soca star Machel Montano has come to the rescue of an unsponsored steelband which had been struggling to prepare for the Panorama competition.
After reading the Sunday Guardian’s article Diamonds in the rough highlighting the plight of George Street-based Blue Diamonds Steel Orchestra, Montano decided to help.
Yesterday Machel’s mother, Elizabeth “Lady” Montano, met with the band’s captain Wayne St Clair Babb and secretary Judith Chambers to determine exactly how the Machel Montano Foundation for Greatness will assist.
Blue Diamonds will be immediately gifted with four new steel pans, including two tenor and two seconds, a new trap set, jerseys, and a banner. Other aspects of sponsorship will also be worked out.
Blue Diamonds will face the judges in their panyard on February 10 in the preliminaries of the Panorama Small Band competition.
The meeting between Montano, St Clair Babb and Chambers took place at the office of Xtatik Limited located at 39 Gordon Street in Port-of-Spain.
While Machel is committed to helping the band, it was at the meeting Montano realised the band actually had some history with her son. Machel used the band’s pan stands as part of his 2017 music video for the song Buss Head with Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez. A portion of the music video was filmed on Cockerton Street which is near the Blue Diamond panyard.
Then they realised the connection was even deeper.
“While talking to them then I realised my first cousin was actually an early member of Blue Diamonds,” Montano said.
St Clair Babb said Montano’s cousin brought calypso composer Winsford “Joker” Devine to the pan side.
“Machel would be happy to know that there is a connection,” Montano said.
St Clair Babb said after his telephone conversation with Montano on Wednesday he spoke to the pan players about it.
“Remember I told you I was a God fearing person. I told you I believe in my God, I pray plenty and before Montano called I told Chambers when I read the article that someone would call,” he said.
“When I told the children about the call if you see them and hear the commotion, everybody was clapping,” he said.
Blue Diamonds is playing Machel’s 2008 song, Blazing D Trail. Arranger Triston Marcano said the song was selected before Montano was bestowed with an honorary doctorate from the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) last year. He said he feels it is a tribute to the soca artist and his contribution to the art form.
Montano said out her son’s extensive song list, Blazing D Trail is actually her favourite.
- by Joel Julien. Photo by Shirley Bahadur.