It began in the 1950s when a foreign tune called “The Happy Wanderer ” won the road march in Trinidad.
Instead of using the opportunity to inspire our artists to work harder at being competitive, in response we banned foreign competition for the Road March.
Over the years , whenever our artists were challenged by foreigners , we found ways to limit the competition.
While this was done with the best of intentions , it is my belief that limiting foreign competition has not helped the growth of our artists , especially in our own native genres.
Consider , for instance a similar situation in academics or athletics.
Limiting our athletes and students only to local competition would never have been considered , especially since we take pride in the accomplishments of our students and athletes on the international scene.
The point is we make it so easy for our artists.
We do not want them to compete with foreigners.
This mind set , in my opinion, has also had an impact on the limiting worldwide exposure and acclaim our panorama , the mainstay of our steel-pan culture.
In the early days , steel-bands at carnival caught the attention of the world playing relatively straightforward arrangements of popular hits of the day.
The music was easily understood and enjoyed by foreign audiences as the sounds of the Caribbean , the sounds of joy and festivity.
However , in our insistence in keeping it local , we’ve tried to force feed a genre featuring complex arrangements of unfamiliar tunes with limited musical appeal to an international audience than cannot understand or appreciate it.
Even after several decades , this formula has produced limited results , yet we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.
The definition of insanity.
If panorama is to remain the main focus of steel-bands , the value of the product needs to be evaluated.
Which has a better chance of advancing the art-form to wider audiences ; complex arrangements unfamiliar , locally crafted tunes ?
Or , as an alternative opening up the judging criteria to allow for popular music of the day of all genres ,making it it easier for newcomers to the art-form to understand and appreciate the music?
Now , we do not even want our modern composers and artists to compete with our own past greats.
And then , we wonder why sometimes they’re so mediocre!