Gala awards ceremony to mark Parang Association’s 50th anniversary

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Radio personality Mark Anthony and leader of the parang band Herencia Venezolana, Adreina Brown, who co-hosted the awards ceremony. Photo courtesy Jordon Briggs

NATIONAL Parang Association (NPATT) president Alicia Jagessar said the 50-year anniversary awards ceremony on Saturday, was held to pay homage to parang icons and the many entities that would have helped mould the artform.

Speaking at the ceremony at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain, Jagessar said the parang tradition embodied the influences of the Spanish, African and native Amerindians.

“Historically, from September to September, the expression of the tradition bonded communities, families, friends and strangers alike into a unity of body, mind and spirit.

“We are diversifying and preserving our parang artform rapidly, and the evidence is before us today with our own orchestra the Orquesta Nacional de Parang de Trinidad y Tobago (ONPaTT) which already made a name at the Dubai 2020 Expo online presentation on January 8.

“So when you hear anyone saying “Parang is dying”, “they killing Parang” or any such comments please invite them to our Junior Parang Festivals, where hundreds of students come together ensuring the preservation and promotion of this beautiful artform that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas time.”

During the event, Jagessar launched NPATT’s Place to Call Home fund. She said some of the organisation’s infrastructural plans include facilities to house a performing arts hall, a museum, NPATT’s Administration Offices, seminars and training rooms, conference rooms, a bar and food court, a mini cinema to promote locally produced films and documentaries, an outdoor performing arts space, mini production studios equipped with live connectivity for broadcasting and streaming, and a four level car park facility.

“Our hope for the location is that it would be attractive to local and international visitors, and would be used to have cultural exchanges, create a hub for cultural entertainment activities ,and establish a Music Academy for strings and percussion instruments connected to the parang artform and the Spanish culture.”


In the feature address, ethno-musicologist and parrandero Francisca Allard said there were three reasons for the longevity and evolution of the parang artform in TT.

“Reason number one is the tenacious desire of the flag bearers to keep the parang tradition alive. Parang stalwarts/families/communities constitute a prime example. They have passed on to successive generations, through the method of oral transmission, the aguinaldos and secular folk songs brought to Trinidad by Venezuelan peons, who later became known as cocoa-panyols, throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. NPATT is another great example.

She said reason number two is the hypnotic infectious rhythm of the parang that transcends language and ethnicity.

“Music researchers have discovered that many persons do enjoy the rhythm and flow of music without necessarily understanding the meaning of the words being sung. This is especially true of the parang where patrons at festivals and parties continue to respond to the infectious, rhythmic strains of the music. The acculturation of Afro and Indo Trinidadians into the parang aesthetic has also contributed greatly to its evolution and longevity.

“Reason number three is the education of the parrandero, with respect to the musical and linguistic characteristics of the parang genre. From its inception, NPATT has always stressed the importance of enhancing not only the linguistic skills of the parrandero but also that of developing their musicianship. Several parang symposiums, lectures and workshops have been hosted by NPATT during its 51 years, inviting dialogue on the artform and these have served to increase the confidence of parranderos. Additionally, many parranderos have been motivated to take Spanish lessons because of their love for parang music.”

Allard commended NPATT for its commitment to promote parang to its true culture as an artform and to reproduce parang forms indigenous to the Caribbean, as stated in its constitution, as well as its focus on exposing young people to parang music.

Members of the National Parang Orchestra perform at the National Parang Association’s 50th anniversary awards ceremony on Saturday at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA). Photo courtesy Jordon Briggs


Awards were given out in the following categories:

Sponsors – ADM Supermarket (Mr. Balliram Maharaj), Angostura Limited, Bermudez Biscuit Company, BPTT Limited, Brydens Limited, Carib Brewery Limited, Dufry Trinidad Limited, First Citizens Bank Limited, National Flour Mills Limited, National Lotteries Control Board, Republic Bank Limited, Simon’s Musical Supplies, SM Jaleel Limited, TSTT Limited, Xtra Foods Supermarket, and Unit Trust Corporation.

Posthumous awards were given to Carlos Renwick, Farouk Khan, Hollis Cielto, Holly Betaudier, Phillip Salazar, Wayne Flores, Wayne Jagdeo, Gloria Alcazar, Jose Hernandez, and Desmond Waithe – who was also an icon in pan arranging who passed away recently.

Awards for Longest Serving Bands went to La Divina Pastora, La Familia de Rio Claro, Lara Brothers, Los Reyes, San Jose Serenaders, and Santa Rosa Parang Group.

Awards were given to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

In the media awards category, Newsday as well as Gayelle, Guardian Media Limited, Power 102.1FM, TTT Limited, WACK 90.1FM, CAMSEL and One Caribbean Media Limited were recognised.

Individual awards were given to Dr Sylvia Moodie-Kublalsingh, Clarence Moe, Earnest Petty, George Carter, Holly Betaudier Jr, Jason Ganpat, Julio Torres, Sharlene Flores, Andre Williams, Michael Mundy, Raphael McDavid, St Bernard Marcelle, Trevor Burnette, Clarita Rivas, Jennifer McPherson, June Burnett, the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, and the Borough of Arima.