Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago remembered the first winner of Panorama in 1963, the Pan Am North Stars, along with their leader, steelpan pioneer Anthony “Tony” Williams!
Williams was a renowned steelpan arranger, composer, and leader of the Pan Am North Stars, who won Panorama twice in 1963 and 1964. They also collaborated with the legendary pianist Winifred Atwell in 1969 – on her record “Ivory and Steel” – and performed live at the Queen’s Hall Auditorium, according to the organisation.
Williams was also the inventor of the soprano pan, also known as the “spider-web pan”, in 1953. He developed a new method of placing the notes, which was responsible for improving the tonal quality of the pan.
It was further informed that Williams was born in St James on June 24th 1931, and began his career as a steelpan player at the age of 12, when he played with the Harlem Nightingale Steelband for Trinidad and Tobago’s first street Carnival after World War II. He worked for various steel bands throughout the years before taking over leadership of the Pan Am North Stars.
According to pan researcher and historian Dr Kim Johnson, Tony Williams was responsible for introducing oil drums to the background pans: the bass and cello, as the band had previously used biscuit tins. For this, he is considered the “father of the modern steel orchestra” and was also responsible for introducing wheels to steel bands.
The National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago further expressed that, unfortunately, Williams passed away in December 2021 from Covid-19. He was a recipient of the Chaconia Medal (Gold) in 1992 and the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 2008.