The first true love I had was for pan
For me it was total dedication
From the very start it was plain to see that
This relationship was meant to be
I couldn’t resist the haunting sound of this
instrument–my first musical experiment
At age 76, veteran musician, composer, pannist and arranger Ray Holman has added a new profession to his already impressive list. Holman released a new compact disc on which he is a vocalist.
The CD, First Love, contains ten songs, all composed by Holman who also sang and played the guitar on each track which will take listeners through Holman’s life journey as a musician.
Holman said he resisted the idea of singing since 2008 when arranger Michael Spiro of California, USA, approached him to do a CD as a vocalist. “This was after I did a concert in Fresno, California, where I used some vocals. I just wanted the show to be more than just me playing the steelpan.
“It was the California State University’s Summer Arts Programme where Liam Teague was one of the musicians.”
Holman said, “Teague told me he would never have believe it if he was not there. He was truly impressed but I did not follow up with Spiro. I was also asked by producers Tom Miller and Jim Munzenrider.”
It was not until 2017, when Miller and Munzenrider came to Trinidad with a friend, KR Sridhar, who convinced Holman to do the project and promised to assist him, that Holman relented.
Holman says he is very happy he waited ten years before he truly got down to doing the CD. “The producers told me they did not want the CD to sound like a calypso/soca recording but people must know it is from the islands. They were looking for a different sound in terms of the music and orchestration.
“Throughout the production they kept telling me, this is not a pan CD, the listener must have a very nice experience and the music must be easy on the ears.”
Holman said being a vocalist is a new career for him but he totally enjoys singing and playing.
First Love was done in several studios stretching from Berkeley, California, to Denver, Colorado and back to TT.
The songs are Holman’s first-ever original music compositions, the historic Pan on The Move (1972) with lyrics by Alvin Daniel; First Love, lyrics by Dennis Franklyn Williams (Merchant 1996); You So Sweet, (Holman 2007); Heroes of the Nation with lyrics by Winsford Devine and Holman (2001); The Dream, lyrics by Javed Shageer (2013); Sweet Island Memories (Holman 2005); Pan, Holman (1994); It Ain’t Go Wuk, lyrics by Javed Shageer (2016); Pan Woman, Devine (1987) and Pan on the Run, Holman and Daniel (1973).
The instruments used to produce the music were wide ranging and included Holman – lead vocals, acoustic guitar double second pans; Jeff Buenz –nylon string guitars; Douglas Bain –cuatro, Jason Muscal –acoustic bass; Michael Spiro –congas and percussion; Danny Bittker –clarinet; Bimal Chopra –dholak, Andy Clayton –triple guitar pan; Terrance Kelly and Nicola Gooding –background vocals; Jordan Curry –violins, Jon Erikson –harmonica; Jenny Holland –flute background vocals; Tom Miller – double second pan, dhantal; and Jim Munzenrider –cowbell, iron and scratcher.
First Love is a well-produced CD from a production team which consisted of producer Tom Miller, executive producer Jim Munzenrider, and was recorded at Opus Studios, Berkeley, California with David Luke as engineer.
The strings and additional pan were recorded at Lamont Studios, Denver, Colorado, with Kyle Huges as engineer. Rishi Mahatoo was the engineer for the additional vocals track editing at his Maha Studios in Charlieville, Chaguanas.
The music was arranged by Holman and Miller with the music direction/preparation and strings arranged by Miller. All percussion arrangements were done by Spiro and Munzenrider. The entire project was mastered at Airshow Studios in Boulder, Colorado, USA.
First Love shows an abundance of talent which lies in TT and can come to the fore if we only try new things. This CD will haunt listeners while arousing a sense of national pride for instruments made in this country.