By Tamoy Ashman
News Americas, Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad, Fri. May 28, 2021: Trinidad & Tobago’s Keishaun Julien was crowned the NLCB PanoGrama Champion for 2021 on Saturday, May 22, 2021, after he blew away fellow competitors, dethroning his fellow countryman and reigning champion Earl Brooks, Jr.
He played his way to victory with a rendition of Pan by Storm, that was entertainingly supported by the ambiance of his storm themed presentation, whilst being cheered on by his many fans online. Julien secured the top spot with a total of 93.2 points, followed by Dejean Cain in 2nd with 92.4 points and Tyeesha Alexander in 3rd with 92.2 points, both also hailing from Trinidad & Tobago. Despite leading in the prelims and the semifinals, France’s Mathieu Borgne had to settle for 5th place on the penultimate night.
Other notable performances of the night came from Andre Forde who performed Give It to Ya by Marzville. Forde of Barbados caught many viewers completely off guard with a jazz-blues fusion of the popular soca hit. Viewers were left in awe at how beautifully he arranged the song to present it with a smooth and melodic feel. David Yundi of the USA added to the wow factor when he opened his performance blindfolded. Each finalist showed their musical prowess and creativity, but it was Julien who blew spectators away with his storm themed performance.
Julien, who finished 8th in the semi-finals, made what many describe as a remarkable comeback with his rendition of Pan by Storm by Designer, complimented the title of his piece with a creative backdrop depicting the events of a storm in which he was the lone survivor among his 9 other competitors, foreshadowing his win. The storm was so powerful that it left Host Nevin Roach and Co-host Aundrea Wharton ducking for cover under a shared umbrella.
As the main performances came to an end, special guest performances by singer and musician Lady Red and Saxophonist Ricardo Seales entertained spectators with musical renditions while they waited anxiously to hear the results.
Julien walks away with a trip to Canada where he will perform at the Sons of Steel Concert. He was also awarded USD$1,000, a virtual session with world renowned pannist Victor Provost, an Augustus Peter Steelpans Chrome Low C Tenor Pan package and an appearance fee.
Dejean Cain who copped second place will receive US $800 cash and a virtual session with Provost, while the third-place winner Tyeesha Alexander will receive USD$500 cash as well as a virtual session with Provost. All finalists will receive an appearance fee partly sponsored by Pan Trinbago.
The virtual competition continues to generate much interest and tracking on social media as it features pannists from around the world. At the beginning of the competition there were 30 pannists, but over time that number was reduced by 10 following each round of the competition. The finals featured 10 pannists.
Over the course of the competition, the NLCB PanoGrama has attracted a massive viewership of over 10,000 international spectators, from the beginning of the event on May 7 to the end on May 22. For the finals, a total of 5,000 spectators viewed the event across Facebook and YouTube.
In an interview, a smiling Roach indicated how happy he was to cross the finish line with this year’s edition of PanoGrama. He thanked his team for the hard work they put in to make this year’s event a resounding success. “To everyone who played a role and supported, thank you. My team and I look forward to more improvements, growth and increased participation next year. Live, love, play and enjoy!”
Final Standings for the Finals
1. Keishaun Julien (T&T) -93.2 points
2. Dejean Cain (T&T) – 92.4 points
3. Tyeesha Alexander (T&T) – 92.2 points
4. Earl Brooks Jr. (T&T) – 91.6 points
5. Mathieu Borgne (France) – 89.6 points
6. Andre Forde (Barbados) – 89.2 points
7. Hanif Goodridge (T&T) – 84.6 points
8. Charlton Alfonso (T&T) – 77.8 points
9. Jamel Cadette (T&T) – 76.4 points
10. David Yundi (USA) 75. 8 points