Trinidad-born veteran pannist Selwyn “Sello” Gomes who taught business courses at several secondary schools in Scarborough, died at the Parkview Nursing Home in Stouffville, Ontario on Saturday after suffering a stroke. He was 84.
Lennox Borel, founder of the Toronto steelband, Panniks which was formed in the 1960s, and a friend of Gomes, said that “Sello devoted his life to pan and celebrated over half a century of playing and teaching the instrument in Canada.”
Gomes who was born into a musical family,was the first arranger and band leader of Silver Stars, one of Trinidad’s leading steel orchestras.
He later joined the Tropiotones steelband which came to Canada in 1955 for the annual Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
Two years later, he migrated to Canada.
Borel recalled that “for several years, Sello performed as a pan soloist and a steel band leader to the ‘Toronto Tropitones’ which was a hybrid group, and later as a keyboard player in bars in downtown Toronto.
” But after awhile, he decided he needed something beyond music to support his wife, four children and himself and he joined his friends from Trinidad at the University of the Toronto where he studied for a degree in economics.”
After graduating from university, Gomes started teaching business courses such as accounting, marketing, and data processing in Scarborough.
“But not satisfied with just teaching business courses, Sello brought pan into Canadian schools,” Borel related.
He said “Sello started in 1970 in Scarborough with an extra-curricular pan program at the first school, Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute, at which he taught.
“He soon moved on to other schools, both public and private, throughout the Toronto area. He also helped to establish one of the strongest youth pan programs in Toronto, the North York Lions Youth Steel band.”
Gomes who served on the Board of the Ontario Steelband Association, was presented with the Pioneer Award at the first Pan Alive show in Toronto in 1997.
A funeral service for the late Selwyn Gomes will be held at O’Neill Funeral Home in Stouffville on Saturday.