Most people connected to Caribbean culture in Toronto know of Tommy Crichlow who has done virtually everything with steelpan and pan music since he emigrated from Trinidad and set up shop in Scarborough in 1989.
He has played the instrument as well as some of the best and, since forming his Panmasters Steel Orchestra, has guided scores of youngsters through the intricacies of this singular Trinidad-created instrument.
Crichlow has been one of the most sought-after musical arrangers, pan-tuners and makers of this most complicated of musical instruments. For his efforts he has received almost every award offered by the pan people of this city and province.
Trinidad, in which he began his illustrious career at 11 and to which he returns every year to be a judge in Panorama, the world largest and most prestigious steelband competition, has also been the source of many of his awards.
Now in his 73rd year, Crichlow adds to his considerable trophy case two of Trinidad’s most coveted awards.
The first, presented to him by Pan Trinbago (the organization that promotes and manages all matters relating to pan music in the island), in recognition of his sterling contribution to the steelband movement, the second is the Evergreen Award that recognized four of Trinidad’s top pan music arrangers in 2015: Roy Holman, Curtis Pierre, Pelham Goddard and Crichlow.
In addition to steelbands in Trinidad, Crichlow has created two bands in Toronto, one in Surinam, and another five in France.
In France in 1998 he trained and led Calyp’s Atlantic Steel Orchestra as part of a mega-steelband at a performance to celebrate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery. Calyp’s Atlantic players performed on instruments that Crichlow taught them how to make.
Perhaps the time has come for the University of the West Indies to provide the ultimate recognition of the contribution of this multitalented “panman” to one of the Caribbean’s great additions to world culture, the steelpan, and add Doctor to his name.
Crichlow is owed that much and more for what he has given to the people of Toronto, to Canada and to his native land for his musical accomplishments and for promoting Trinidad’s cherished invention and gift to the world.
Students of Panmasters Steel Orchestra is holding a fundraiser Sunday (May 31) at Twilight Family Restaurant starting at 4 p.m.
By Camera staff