Holman World's First Jazz Pannist

Newspaper: Sunday Guardian
Date: February 27, 2005 
Letter to the Editor: Feroze Ali

Michelle Loubon must be complimented on choosing to write about Ray Holman, as he is one of a kind, the mould of which is no longer available.

I would like to add a little to Loubon’s article. Holman is the world’s first jazz pannist, as he has quietly demonstrated his skills to adapt to a blend of rhythms, like calypso and jazz within the halls of Queen’s Royal College in 1963, the year in which calypso jazz was born under the leadership of Mr. Schoefield Pilgrim.

(While I am on the subject of the birth place of calypso jazz, I might add that the first pianist was a student of English origin by the name of Johnny Golding, the first guitarist was Johnny Blake, the first bassist was the late, great Monty Williams, the first drummer was Selwyn Derrick –now Major Derrick- and I won’t disclose the name of the first conga player, all attending students of Queen’s Royal College.)

Ray, as he is affectionately known, brought a sense of purpose and intellectualism to the process, that today it is easy to understand his ability to achieve sustained success in his endeavours. He also brought a sense of humility that would make one wonder whether he had any ego, a trait developed from his quiet devotion to his creator, and the doctrine of his church.

This great feature of his character caused him, nonetheless, to suffer silently in his personal life.

In the world of the arts and music, so often we need to separate the man from the music or the performance, be it Bill Cosby or Michael Jackson, or any of our own local entertainers, as many behavioural issues arise that force us to take a harder look at the two. In the case of Holman, the man and the music are inseparable.

He is an example to the nation, and more so to the youth of the Caribbean. Our nation must find Ray, and draw on his skills, and his personality.

Finally, who could forget his arrangement of Sparrow’s Jane for Starlift steelband in the eighties.

Phase Two is fortunate to have Holman in the background. He is committed to the intellectual development of the pan.